The Limpkin, A Species of Special Concern in Florida

The Limpkin, A Species of Special Concern in Florida

The Limpkin is a very unique bird and one of my favourites to photograph whenever in Florida.  They are a large bird, 26-28 inches in length with a wing span of approximately 45 inches.  Although morphologically they look like large Rails and skeletally they resemble Cranes, by design they are perfect for what they do, which is forage for Apple Snails – their primary diet.  The Limpkin gets its name from its rather awkward appearance whether in the air with its stilting wing movement or walking along the ground with its less than smooth gait.  Not surprisingly, a collective group of Limpkins is known as a “hobbling”.  The world-wide population of the Limpkin is strong with numbers estimated at over 1,000,000 mostly in South and Central America.  In Florida its numbers are on the decline due to the declining Apple Snail population created by urbanization.  As a result the Limpkin is listed as a “Species of Special Concern” in North America.

This first image of a Limpkin is somewhat of an attempt to give the shot an artistic feel by purposely moving to have the purple flowers in front of the bird in the foreground…..not sure if it works, but it’s always a good exercise to experiment with composition whenever you have your camera out!


The following image shows the strong and powerful beak of the Limpkin.  After finding an Apple Snail the bird places it on the ground, carefully lines it up and then impales the shell with its beak so it can then extract the snail. The design of the beak is perfect for doing this.  It is a very interesting feat to observe and also hear the unique sound it makes.


Happily bringing another Apple Snail to the waters edge for a snack.


There are many more Limpkin images, including a number of in flight shots you can see in the Wading & Shore Birds Gallery

More Limpkin Images


  1. This is a very cool series of images! Our experience with the Limpkin was very limited on Lake Toho and when we return, I will try and duplicate your success. By the way, I consider your experiment of composition an achievement, it puts everything in context and tells a story which we strive to do with each image.

    • Thanks Arni, these Limpkins are all from Viera although we did see a few on Lake Toho. We’ve been very fortunate seeing these birds at Viera and they let you get quite close.