Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)


[order] GRUIFORMES | [family] Aramidae | [latin] Aramus guarauna | [UK] Limpkin | [FR] Courlan brun | [DE] Rallenkranich | [ES] Carrao | [NL] Koerlan


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Turnix guarauna
Aramus guarauna
Aramus guarauna
Aramus guarauna NA, LA se USA to Argentina
Aramus guarauna dolosus se Mexico to Panama
Aramus guarauna elucus Hispaniola, Puerto Rico
Aramus guarauna guarauna n South America to Paraguay and Argentina
Aramus guarauna pictus Florida (USA), Cuba, Jamaica

Physical charateristics

The Limpkin has dark brown or chocolate brown plumage overall, with slight bronze sheen on wings and tail. Most of its body, including head, neck, back and underparts are heavily streaked and mottled with white. Underwing coverts show white mottling, visible in flight. Wings are long and broad, and tail is rather short.
Face and neck show finer white streaks than on body, and appear paler. Bill is long, slightly down curved, and yellowish with dark tip. When Limpkin has closed bill, we can see a gap before the tip. This gap helps it in carrying and manipulating large snails. Eyes are reddish. Long legs and large, webless feet are dark greyish-green.
Both sexes are similar in plumage, but male is larger than female. Juvenile is similar to adults, but it has narrower white spots, giving streaked appearance.

Listen to the sound of Limpkin


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 101 cm wingspan max.: 107 cm
size min.: 64 cm size max.: 73 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 91 days fledging max.: 28 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 7  


North America, Latin America : Southeast USA to Argentina


Limpkin lives in marshy wooded areas. It is resident in open freshwater marshes, swamp forests bordering slow-moving rivers, lake or pond shores, and mangroves.


When breeding season starts, unmated female visit several territories. She may call to attract male which spends most of time at nest site, and exhibits nest-building behaviour. Female approaches nest-site and the whole process may take from a few days to a few weeks. After pair-bonding, mates rest and forage side by side until incubation. Male also performs courtship feeding, offering extracted snails to female. Copulation continues from pair formation to beginning of incubation. Limpkin may be monogamous, but serial polyandry occurs. Female may leave mate’s territory every day for one hour, fly to unpaired male, and come back after courtship feeding and copulation.

Nest site is usually selected by male. Nest may be built in a wide variety of sites: a few cm above water on floating vegetation; among tall marsh grasses; in shrubs or stumps covered with tangled vine; in isolated pond bush in the Everglades. Nest is well hidden, but with clear view for sitting birds. Limpkin’s nest is a platform made with woven reeds and twigs. This platform is used to elevate nesting materials above water. Female lays 5 to 7 rufous coloured eggs, speckled with brown. Eggs are usually laid daily. Incubation lasts about 26 to 28 days, and starts when clutch is complete. Both parents share incubation. They turn the eggs, and add or adjust nest materials.
Chicks are covered with down, and leave the nest very soon after hatching. During the first week, they stay at brooding platform for brooding, resting and feeding. Juvenile usually disperse at about 13 to 17 weeks after hatching, but adults stop feeding them at about 9 to 10 weeks of age.
This species produces two broods per season, sometimes three.

Feeding habits

Limpkin feeds mainly on freshwater large apple snails (genus Pomacea), mussels, but also lizards, frogs, insects, crustaceans and worms.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Limpkin status Least Concern


Limpkin is resident in its range, but northern populations may be partially migratory.

Distribution map

Limpkin distribution range map

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