General description.

The "Limpkin" is a large wading bird. Everything about it is "long": legs, neck, toes and slender down-curved bill. This bill is slightly open near, but not at the end, to give it a tweezers-like action in removing snails from their shells, and in many individuals the tip curves slightly to the right, like the apple snails' shells. Because of their long toes, they can stand on floating water plants. The "Limpkin" looks like a large rail but is skeletally closer to cranes. It is mainly active at night amongst wooded swamps and marshes.

Female appearance.

The males are slightly larger than the females in size, but there is no difference in plumage, which is drab, dark brown with an olive luster above.

Juvenile appearance.

The white markings are slightly less conspicuous in first-year birds.

Flight pattern.

They fly strongly, the neck projecting forward and the legs backward. In flight, the wings have a rapid upstroke and slower downstroke.

Breeding habits.

Males may initially challenge and fight off prospective mates, and may not accept first-year females as mates. Pair-bond formation may take a few weeks. Courtship feeding is part of the bonding process, where males catch and process a snail and then feed it to the female.

Calls or song.

The "Limpkin" is locally known as the "Crying Bird" due to its loud, eerie call sounding like a human in distress, ""kwEEEeeer" or "klAAAar".

Population and distribution.

It is found mostly in the wetlands of Georgia and Florida. In Florida the distribution of apple snails is the best predictor of where "Limpkins" can be found. Birds may also migrate between Florida and Cuba.

Nesting habits.

Nest building is undertaken by the male initially, who makes a shallow nest of marsh vegetation, placed just above the water; more rarely in a stick nest in low trees or bushes.

Similar birds:

Common Crane Photo Common Crane
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