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What in the World is a Limpkin, Anyway?

A Limpkin is a unique-looking bird that is actually the only member of its taxonomic family. Although their outer appearance is more like Herons and Ibises, the Limpkin is closely associated with Rails and Cranes. Limpkins’ habitat can pretty much be shores of ponds, lakes and rivers, as well as swamp forests and open freshwater marshes. In the United States, this bird can only be found throughout the state of Florida.

The Limpkin’s name comes from its seeming limp when it walks. Their length can be between 25 to 28 inches with a wingspan of 39 to 42 inches. Male Limpkins are very territorial and engage in aggressive and ritualistic confrontations that include charging, loud calling and retreating. The Limpkin diet consists of apple snails and freshwater mussels, which is why their bill is adapted for foraging on apple snails. A Limpkin’s bill, when closed, has a gap right before the tip. The reason for this gap is so that the bill can actually act like tweezers when it needs to feed. Limpkins have also been seen eating insects, worms, frogs, and lizards.

They are locally known as the "wailing bird" or "crying bird" due to their loud mournful call, usually issued at night by territorial males. The Limpkin is one of the unusual animals you can find on an Orlando airboat ride through the swamp and marshlands of the Florida Everglades. If you’d like to learn more about Florida wildlife or schedule your own airboat tour in Orlando, give Wild Florida Airboats a call at 407-957-3135!