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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote® Limpkin, Bird of the Swamp

Air Date: Week of April 27, 2012

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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.

Transcript

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

[BIRDNOTE THEME]

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®.

[CHIRPING]

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.

[LOUD LIMPKIN CALL]

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

[LIMPKIN]

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


(Photo: Tom Grey ©)

[CALL OF RED-SHOULDERED HAWK]

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.

[A LIMPKIN CALL]

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

[SONGS OF CAROLINA WREN AND WHITE-EYED VIREO]

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

[PIG FROG CALLS]

STEIN: I’m Michael Stein.

[LIMPKIN CALL]

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

 

Links

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.

 

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