Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - May 4, 2005)
Memories sparked by the glow of a winter fire
A mothers love is a natural gift
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|Under the parents
watchful eye, a baby limpkin takes a trial swim.
Her love is like an island
In lifes ocean, vast and wide
A peaceful, quiet shelter
From the wind, the rain, the tide.
We walked near the waters edge. The day was a clear, cool relief from
winter. Around a bend of bulrushes a large, brown, speckled bird stood, wing
outstretched while he preened each feather with delicate accuracy. The sun
glistened upon his back as he shook the lake water from his feathers.
We stood in respectful silence, but once he noticed our presence he cautiously
moved toward the stand of bulrushes where he joined his mate. Keeping our distance,
quietly we lifted our cameras following the pair with our lenses. My partner began
softly whistling. The limpkin pair soon relaxed, but remained close together as
they swam back and forth through the reeds, turning over freshwater apple snail
shells and poking at debris.
Long legged wading birds, limpkins, Aramus guarauna, were hunted to near
extinction until in 1920 a law was passed to protect them. They are still listed as
a Species of Special Concern, possibly due to the limpkins dependence upon
the apple snail. Although limpkins are widespread in the American tropics, limpkins
can only be found near freshwater streams, rivers, lakes and marshland areas in
Florida where apple snails are common.
Limpkins are between 22 to 28 inches tall with a wingspan of 42 inches. They are
predominantly dark brown with a splash of heavy white spots upon their backs and
Little is known about limpkin breeding habits. They seem to be very adaptable in
where they choose to build their nests, from the edge of marshland water, to ground
level, but, as well, it has been noted that sometimes they will choose to nest in
trees up to 20 feet high or higher. Their nests are made of plant material
including reeds and grasses.
Limpkins lay between two and four olive to buff colored eggs. The young chicks are
precocial, i.e.: as young chicks they follow their parents but find
their own food and can usually swim on their own within the first couple of days of
Except during breeding time the limpkin mostly remain solitary. They are not
commonly noticed in the wild, due to their excellent camouflage. However, limpkins
certainly can be heard at dusk, dawn, night and on cloudy days by their piercing
cry or wail, a repetitious: kree-ow, kra-ow, kurr-ur-ee-oww, earning them the name
of crying bird.
The water sparkled with the rising sun, as we watched the pair of limpkins with
delightful curiosity. One bird stayed within the reeds while the other moved about
on land walking back and forth from the marshs edge to higher ground. Then he
joined his mate for a swim. It was at this time we realized why the other bird had
remained hidden within the reeds. Tucked between father and mother was a tiny ball
of gray fluff. Both parents gently prodded the nestling with their long beaks
encouraging the little one to stay close.
Under cautious eyes they took the baby for a trial swim back and forth from the
nest and along the shore foraging. We sat in silence. The father proudly strutted
about the nest protective, on guard, as the mother then tucked her little one under
her wing in safe concealment and back to rest. We realized it was time for us to go
and leave this family in peace. Feeling blessed to spend a moment with this caring
couple we quietly continued upon our journey back to nature.
As I write this column, a mom with her five newly hatched little ducklings have
taken up residence in the quiet seclusion of our back yard. They are an
inspiration. Happy Mothers Day!
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.