• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote® Limpkin, Bird of the Swamp

Air Date: Week of
A Limpkin in flight. (Photo: Tom Grey ©)

Big Cypress Swamp in Florida is home to a wide variety of birds, including the loud and lanky Limpkin. Michael Stein has more.


GELLERMAN: It's Living on Earth, I'm Bruce Gellerman.


GELLERMAN: Florida’s Big Cypress Swamp is a vast wetland teeming with life; 'gators, bears, 'coons , rattlers and a lanky bird with a loud call. Here’s Michael Stein of BirdNote®.


STEIN: It’s before dawn on a spring day in the Big Cypress Swamp of Florida. Mist is rising from quiet water into Spanish moss, hanging from the Cypress branches. Suddenly, a startling sound breaks the silence.


STEIN: A male limpkin has awakened! This relatively tall bird, whose dark brown feathers are streaked with white, stretches and calls again.


STEIN: In the distance, a red-shouldered hawk responds.

(Photo: Tom Grey ©)


STEIN: The limpkin hops down from its perch and begins probing the dark water with its long bill. It’s foraging for apple snails, each the size of a golf ball. When it touches a big, round shell, it grabs it quickly and pulls it from the water.

Then, moving to solid ground, the limpkin positions the shell, and using the curved tip of its lower mandible, it scissors loose the operculum, the door that closes the shell, and pulls out the snail. One quick swallow, and it’s on to find the rest of breakfast.


STEIN: By this time, other birds have awakened, and Carolina wrens and white-eyed vireos are declaring their territories.


STEIN: A pig frog adds to the amphibian and avian chorus of the Big Cypress Swamp.


STEIN: I’m Michael Stein.


GELLERMAN: To see some photos of limpkins, flock over to our website L-O- E dot org.



BirdNote® Limpkin, Bird of the Swamp was written by Dennis Paulson.

Bird sounds and Pig Frog provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call of Limpkin 2789 recorded by D. McChesney; Red-shouldered Hawk 105335 by G.A. Keller; Carolina Wren by T.A. Parker III; White-eyed Vireo song 73896 by G.A. Keller; Pig Frog 42082 by O. Hewitt.


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth