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It's dawn on a spring day in the Big Cypress Swamp of Florida. Mist rises from quiet water into Spanish moss hanging from the cypress branches. A Limpkin is foraging for apple snails. 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 and pulls out the snail. Have you spent time in a cypress swamp? Tell us your story in the COMMENTS section below, and post a photo on our Facebook page. Thanks!
Limpkin, Bird of the Swamp
Written by Dennis Paulson
This is BirdNote.
[A quiet cricket chirping]
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]
A male Limpkin has awakened! This relatively tall bird, whose dark brown feathers are streaked with white, stretches and calls again. [Limpkin] In the distance, a Red-shouldered Hawk responds.
[Call of Red-shouldered Hawk]
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]
By this time, other birds have awakened, and Carolina Wrens and White-eyed Vireos are declaring their territories [songs of Carolina Wren + White-eyed Vireo]. A Pig Frog adds to the amphibian and avian chorus of the Big Cypress Swamp.
[Pig Frog (Rana grylio) calls]
Have you spent time in a cypress swamp? Have a photo you’d like to post on our Facebook site? Begin at BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein. [A Limpkin call]
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.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org April 2012 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# LIMP-01-2012-04-18 LIMP-01