Limpkins are Apple Snail specialists.  That is, they eat snails of the genus Pomacea to the exclusion of all else, provided the snails are available. And while finding snails is not difficult for a long legged bird that is not afraid to wade into alligator-infested marshes it is difficult to extract the yummy snail meat from its protective shell.  Fortunately, Limpkins learn quickly, and watching one remove a snail from its shell with only the use of a beak is impressive.

I had the good fortune to watch just that happen at the Viera Wetlands one day this past week.  The snail was not very large but I was impressed with the size of the chunk of snail meat hiding in the recesses of the shell.  Want to see a Limpkin eating a snail?  Then scroll down!

First, though, I thought it might be nice to share the Limpkin portrait I managed to get…

Limpkin Aramus guarauna

The Limpkin is the only bird in the family Aramidae, which shares the order Gruiformes with the rails and cranes.  There is no other bird quite like a Limpkin for which the snails of Florida are very grateful!

Limpkin with a freshly caught snail

Now the Limpkin finds a good place to process its lunch.

It’s tricky to get the meat out!

Success! Yum!

Off to find another snail…

If you liked these images make sure to head on over to 10,000 Clicks, the 10,000 Birds photo-galleries page, and see our growing collection of galleries.

10,000 Birds is a Scrub Jay-level sponsor of the 15th Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.