Thursday, August 6, 2015

Limpkin

In the United States, Limpkins are residents of Florida, with casual or accidental records elsewhere in the Southeast. These curious birds also breed in the West Indies, southern Mexico and Central America, and much of South America. Erika and I found them on 25 March on the east side of Harns Marsh, which is east of Fort Myers. At least in Florida, Limpkins specialize in eating Apple Snails, mollusks also sought out by Snail Kites, which we also listed at the marsh. The Limpkin bill is bent and twisted, an adaptation for removing the snails from their baseball-sized prey. Not surprisingly, Florida wetland development threatens Limpkin populations.

In Wild America, an entertaining book describing one of North America’s first birding big years, Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher write that the Limpkin gives a “shrieking, yelping, and caterwauling…” call. Alexander Sprunt wrote that, when several males counter-call, the sound is “one of the weirdest cacophonies of nature” (cited by Bryon 2002). The screech has been compared to a woman being strangled. I recognized the call when Erika and I heard it at the marsh. I think the call is actually kind of pretty—you decide what you think it sounds like.

2 comments:

  1. Sorry to have missed you, Dan. Harns Marsh Preserve is one of my favorite wildlife venues. It's about a half hour drive east of Fort Myers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We don’t get to Florida very often, but will try to contact you next time...

    ReplyDelete