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Limpkin Chicks

Updated on January 23, 2018
Virginia Allain profile image

Birds and wildlife fascinate me. I enjoy observing them and photographing them wherever I go. I share what I learn here.

An adult limpkin takes wing when disturbed by people nearby.
An adult limpkin takes wing when disturbed by people nearby. | Source

Photos of a Limpkin Family in Florida

If you live in Florida or visit there, you'll love the variety of birds you'll see. The limpkin lives in swampy areas or near water. Considered somewhat reclusive, it's not hard to spot one in Central Florida. I'm not sure why it's considered a shy bird.

I'm fortunate to live in a retirement community in Florida which has plenty of habitat for wild birds like the limpkin. Living here has turned me into an avid birdwatcher. I keep my camera with me at all times so I can capture the scenes that make Solivita such a beautiful place for animal lovers.

Here I'll profile a family of limpkins, an ordinary, even nondescript bird, that can be fascinating as you observe it more closely and learn about its life. The photos shown here are my own pictures taken with a Canon SX20 IS.

Here's a Limpkin Parent with an Almost Grown Chick


Seeing the Limpkin Family

Today while playing the Cypress Course in Solivita, we were privileged to spot a family of limpkins. It was hard to get a count of the fuzzy chicks as they kept moving around. Both parents were present and feeding the babies with freshwater mussels along the edge of the lake. From the number of mussel shells scattered on the shore, I’d say it was a regular feeding area for these large brown birds.

When I first saw these rather plain birds, I looked them up in a Florida birding guide and found they were called limpkins. The name comes from their somewhat awkward, halting gait. The book said they are reclusive and usually hidden away in the deep swamps. I guess the Solivita limpkins didn’t read the same book, as over the seven years that we’ve been in Florida, we see them regularly in open areas around the water.

They have a striking call that can be rather annoying if a love-lorn limpkin decides to hang out in your yard while calling incessantly for a mate. The fortunate part is they quickly pair up and proceed to the nesting stage of their relationship which is much quieter. This is the first time I got to see the limpkin chicks.

Looking super-cute and huggable, they seem like the avian equivalent of teddy bears.

Here are a series of photos showing the parents feeding the limpkin chicks. I think there were about six or even seven babies in this family. Fortunately, I had my camera handy in the golf cart and was able to get these photos while the guys were teeing off. Don’t worry, I didn’t delay play at all.

Notice all the shells along the shore where the limpkins and chicks have been feeding.

Limpkin Family - Click on Each Photo to See It Larger

A line-up of limpkin chicks along the edge of the pond.
A line-up of limpkin chicks along the edge of the pond.
Now there are 4 chicks.
Now there are 4 chicks.
The young stay close to the parent and wait for tidbits of food.
The young stay close to the parent and wait for tidbits of food.
In this photo, you can see the limpkin's feet, suitable for wading in shallow, muddy areas.
In this photo, you can see the limpkin's feet, suitable for wading in shallow, muddy areas. | Source
They wade in the lake to hunt for food.
They wade in the lake to hunt for food. | Source
Both parents provide food for the young.
Both parents provide food for the young.
Too cute!
Too cute!

Description of the Bird

The parent has a sleek profile with milk-chocolate brown feathers and white spots across the body. On the long neck, the white appears more as flecks in with the brown. It has long legs for wading with knobby knees.

It has a yellow beak. The beak is quite long but not as curved as the ibis beak. The long beak works ideally to pick up mussels in shallow water and force them open.

The baby limpkin is a brown fluff ball. It shows the knobby knees and legs that will grow quickly. The baby shown here has lighter coloring around the beak and eyes but many of the chicks are dark around the face.

You'll Want a Good Guide to Learn the Names

National Geographic Field Guides to Birds: Florida (National Geographic Field Guide to Birds)
National Geographic Field Guides to Birds: Florida (National Geographic Field Guide to Birds)

The photos in this guide are outstanding, as you would expect of National Geographic. A solid reference for your bookshelf.


What Do Limpkins Eat?

Limpkin chick eating a mussel shared by a parent. Photo taken in Central Florida.
Limpkin chick eating a mussel shared by a parent. Photo taken in Central Florida. | Source

I'm still not sure how the limpkin opens these fresh water mussels. Possibly the beak is strong enough to pop it open. They aren't broken, just open and empty after they has been feeding.

The photo shows the limpkin parent with a mussel in its beak feeding the chick. On the ground you'll see the mussel shell.

Both parents participate in feeding their brood.

Video of the Limpkin Feeding a Young Bird

Video of a Limpkin Calling

Usually the limpkin is pretty quiet and reclusive bird. During the mating season, they seem to call quite a bit. Once they settle down with a nest and later chicks, they are quiet again.

Our neighbor says they wake him up with their calls. I must be a better sleeper than he is.

Have You Seen or Heard Limpkins?

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Older Limpkin Chicks - With Their Parents (Photos by Virginia Allain)

As the chick fledges and gets real feathers, it takes on the same coloring as the parent. Note the white flecks on this brown youngster.
As the chick fledges and gets real feathers, it takes on the same coloring as the parent. Note the white flecks on this brown youngster.
Parent feeding almost grown chick
Parent feeding almost grown chick

You Can Even Get Limpkin Babies on a Postcard


Limpkins on the Roof

Here, a pair of limpkins landed on the roof of our screen room.
Here, a pair of limpkins landed on the roof of our screen room. | Source

© 2011 Virginia Allain

Have You Seen a Limpkin?

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Birds are so hard to photograph. Fortunately I have lots of zoom on my latest camera.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 3 years ago

      I live on a very small Florida lake (kind of a large pond) and Limpkins haven't made their way here, but yesterday a mommy moorhen arrived with 3 chicks. Your photos turned out waaaaaay better than mine. Very cool.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Beautiful photographs and a very informative Hub. Well done.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      What a beautiful place to live so close to and I too have never seen this pretty birdie before. Sweet how you managed to catch so many great photos of these birds.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I love these photos, the limpkin is actually pretty in a quiet way. I like their shape and coloring, and the babies are adorable. I'm grateful to get to see these photos, because I don't get to see much in the way of wildlife, unless you count the feral kitties in the neighborhood, which I glimpse occasionally. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photography, Virginia.

    • profile image

      jenny-archer-9 5 years ago

      Never heard of a 'Limpkin'..if I'd been asked probably would have thought it part of a car engine!!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @Brandi Bush: They are rather reclusive, mostly living is swampy areas. We are fortunate to see them on the golf course and even along the lake behind our house.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      These limpkins are so cute! Not sure if I've ever heard of a limpkin...and I lived in Florida for several years. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • jasminedessy profile image

      jasminedessy 5 years ago

      I never see a Limpkin but nice picture ..

      I really like it & love it

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      Ah, I had no idea you lived in Florida? Why did I think you lived in New York? You have tickled my fancy with your delightful pictures of the Limpkin chicks ... kind of sounds like a good name for us semi-retired Florida chicks, you know? Hugs!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      thank goodness... i finally found out what kind of bird was making all that sound in the middle of the night... so it should end after mating season... i hope... its driving my husband and i insane.....

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 6 years ago

      I just bought a place in South Florida however I never did see a Limpkin.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 6 years ago from France

      Nice photographs and a great subject, love anything to do with nature and different species.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      What darling birds! Love to see new (to me) wildlife.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      Never heard of Limpkins before, how wonderful they do remind me of a "Heron" that we have in Scotland, very similar indeed!

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 6 years ago

      Great photographs! I don't think I've ever seen any Limpkins.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      Lovely photos. Didn't know what a Limpkin was before, but I do now! Many thanks.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      @SaraLynn LM: I've never offered my limpkins a glass of chardonnay. They might like it with their mussels too.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      I've seen pictures of these birds before, but didn't know what they're called. Limpkins!

    • SaraLynn LM profile image

      SaraLynn LM 7 years ago

      Very sweet lens.. the fuzzy little babies are so cute! The Limpkins eat very well.. mussels are delicious! I like mine with a glass of Chardonnay :-)

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      wonderful! I don't know these birds at all but I am enchanted by your photos. Angel blessed and featured on my wild bird lens for those published in May

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 7 years ago

      Wonderful pictures - and I love those fuzzy baby Limpkins. Thanks for sharing your wildlife with us. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Awe how Cute, they are so Precious and they are hard to find them. This is an Awesome Lens!!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I'd never heard of limpkins. Great photos! Love the baby birds.

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 7 years ago

      I have and this is a good lens showing this elusive bird. Very nice work, and you have good karma, that's why this was presented to you. See you around the galaxy...


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