Limpkin: Aramus guarauna
Along spring runs and rivers, you may notice small clusters of
pink-tinted eggs attached to plants and roots at the water's edge.
These are the eggs of the apple snail, chief food of the limpkin, a
long-legged waterbird with a downcurved bill. The limpkin resembles
a rail but stands taller, has a longer neck and is distinguished by
its dark brown feathers flecked with white, which give it a spotted
appearance. It is probably better known for its voice, described as
a piercing repeated wail, "Kree-ow, Kra-ow," often heard in the
background of old Tarzan movies. The sound of several males calling
is described as "one of the weirdest cacophonies of nature."
In the United States, limpkins are found in southern Georgia and
Florida in the shallows along rivers, streams and lakes, and in
marshes, swamps and sloughs.
As the limpkin walks through shallow water, it uses sight and
touch to search for apple snails, mussels, worms and insects. The
sharp and twisted end of its curved bill fits perfectly into a
snail shell, allowing the limping to deftly extract the
Today, Florida's limpkin population is fairly stable. The main
threats to the population are wetland drainage and anything that
diminishes apple snail abundance. In some areas, thick mats of
nonnative plants, such as water hyacinths, prevent limpkins from
finding snails and other food. Dense cattail stands along the
shorelines of lakes and rivers receiving nutrient-enriched runoff ,
can similarly degrade foraging habitat and access to mollusks.
Because of these threats, the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission listed the Limpkin as a Species of Special