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Merlin Bird ID

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    Limpkin Life History


    Habitat MarshesOpen freshwater marshes, swamp forests, and shores of rivers, lakes, and ponds.Back to top


    Food Aquatic invertebratesApple snails (Pomacea sp.) and freshwater mussels.Back to top


    Nest Placement

    Nest Ground

    Nest Description

    A platform of sticks, vines, leaves, moss, grass, and other types of vegetation, built in any of a variety of sites, from the surface of floating vegetation to tree limbs 40 feet above the ground.

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:3-8 eggs
    Egg Description:Variable. Light grayish white or deep olive with brownish or purplish gray streaks and blotches.
    Condition at Hatching:Covered with down and able to swim, walk, and run.
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    Behavior ProbingTerritorial males engage in aggressive, ritualistic confrontations that include charging, retreating, and loud calling. Searches visually for snails in clear water, or by jabbing or sweeping with bill. Turns the snail shell opening upward, cuts through the muscle attachment, and pulls out the snail. Extraction takes about 10 to 20 seconds; the shell is rarely broken.Back to top


    Conservation Low ConcernThere is little information on Limpkin population numbers and trends. The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan lists it as a species of High Concern, but it is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. Limpkin were once abundant in Florida, but were almost eradicated by humans hunting for food. Conversion of wetlands for agriculture, flood control, and development have further contributed to the species' decline in Florida, estimated at about 9.1% per year from 1966 to 1993. Back to top


    Bryan, Dana C. 2002. Limpkin (Aramus guarauna), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

    Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

    Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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