The Photogenic Limpkin
One of the first “real” photographs I took in the wild was of a Limpkin. They hold a place in my heart right next to the Caracara. They are by all means a unique creature. Taxonomists have debates over where to classify them, and DNA sequencing is just not fast enough to determine what classification they belong to. It is thought that they are more closely related to Clappers and Rails. The Limpkin is a specialist feeder, eating a diet that consists mainly of apple snails. In Florida, a major concern for their well being is the replacement of native snails by those introduced into our waterways. They share this particular feeding habit with Snail Kites, another endemic species, but are not always found within the same habitats. Little scientific information is available on this species. Until recently, Limpkins were were considered elusive and serious access problems precluded their study. Now, it appears, habitat loss has moved them closer to our everyday lives. They have become a staple of golf courses, retention ponds, and islands, much to the disdain of many human residents who despise their long, rattling cry.
All of these photos were taken at the Viera Wetlands (Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands) in Viera Florida. If ever there were a place to study Limpkins I do believe this is it. I have seen them many other places, but never had the opportunity to photograph them.