- ORDER: Gruiformes
- FAMILY: Aramidae
The gangly, brown-and-white Limpkin looks a bit like a giant rail or perhaps a young night-heron. Its long bill is bent and twisted at the tip, an adaptation for removing snails from the shell. Limpkins are tropical wetland birds whose range reaches into Florida. They specialize in eating apple snails, which they hunt both day and night, and they often leave telltale piles of snail shells at the edges of freshwater wetlands where hunting is good. This bird’s haunting cries, heard mostly at night, are otherworldly and unforgettable.More ID Info
Find This Bird
An early morning outing to a freshwater wetland in Florida will beat the heat and provide opportunities to see Limpkins foraging before human activities get going. Bring insect repellent, water, sunblock, and hat to enjoy this bird in its subtropical lowland environment.
- Carrao (Spanish)
- Courlan brun (French)
- Cool Facts
- The name Limpkin purportedly comes from the bird’s gait, which appeared to early European settlers as a limp, perhaps when pursued by hunters with dogs. At such times, the usually stolid bird gallops away at unexpectedly high speeds.
- The Limpkin's bill is uniquely adapted to foraging on apple snails. The closed bill has a gap just before the tip that makes the bill act like tweezers. The tip itself is often curved slightly to the right so it can be slipped into the right-handed curve of the snail’s shell.
- The outermost flight feather (primary) in Limpkins is sickle-shaped but broad at the tip, and is especially pronounced in males. This feather can be used to make a loud buzzing sound called winnowing when the bird flies, and this sound is apparently used to mark territory, even at night.
- The Limpkin is the only member of its taxonomic family, Aramidae. Although it resembles herons and ibises in general form, the Limpkin is generally considered to be more closely related to rails and cranes.