Odd bird, the limpkin

I got a good look at a Limpkin this morning while walking the dogs at Green River.

They are medium-sized wading birds found in Florida wetlands. They eat big snails and that’s pretty much it. One-of-a-kind birds. They are the only member of the taxonomic family Aramidae.

We walked north along the berm, next to the biggest, deepest retention pond. The grass is pretty crispy in the end-of-dry-season drought conditions. Lots of ant mounds too, so take my advice and never stand still for very long in one spot.

There is almost always a medium-large alligator in that pond and I got a good zoom shot of him this morning. I also spotted a large gator in the pond just beyond this one, to the west.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty wary about the unpredictability of alligator behavior and I don’t linger near them. Too many stories in the news.

Limpkin floofing. Maybe enjoying the morning sun?

Temperature was 72 degrees with a gentle east wind, extremely pleasant.

Any snails down there?

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. 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.

In the U.S., Limpkins are found only in Florida and southern Georgia. Their range includes the Caribbean, and parts of Central and South America too.

I see them almost every time I visit Green River.

So bring your northern friends to walk the berms by the ponds at Green River water management area to show them odd birds and prehistoric reptiles… welcome to Florida!

There’s a small parking area on the west side of Green River Parkway where Martin County ends and St. Lucie County begins.

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