In the kingdom of Aves is an order known as Gruiformes. From that order is a family, Aramidae, with only one species in its membership called, Aramus guarauna or the "Limpkin". They inhabit the fresh water marshes of Belize along its Riverine forest in areas such as the New River Lagoon and Crooked Tree.

I told Bubba that I hear Belizean tour guides refer to it as the dinosaur bird. He said "It's very true the Limpkin are unique and putting them in a specific order is difficult and not always agreed on with ornithologists. In general its appearance is that of a large slender rail (Rallidae), other skeletal features resemble a crane (Gruidae). I'm sure its dinosaur connection would be a kinship to Diatryma, an extinct order known only from fossil remains. Perhaps they should be in their own order since its relationship with any living bird is uncertain."

Limpkin are "specialized feeders". In their usual swamp habitat Limpkin wade in shallow water and perch at varying heights in vegetation. They can swim well despite having unwebbed feet, but fly rather infrequently.

There is a very delicate balance of having these birds in Belize and Belize providing them with escargot. Although known to eat seeds and insects its primary food source is the "Apple Snail" (Pomacea).

The Apple Snail is a very large, freshwater snail that the Limpkin will hold in its foot while it extracts it from its shell. Like the conch fishermen on the coast, they first pierce a small strategic hole to disconnect the snail from its anchor deep within the shell. Then with its bill, it pulls free the meat from the shell's natural opening and swallows it whole.

The abundance of freshwater Apple Snails is in direct correlation to where we find Limpkin. The snails' survival is connected to cool fresh water rivers running from the forest. I told Bubba, "Sounds like a balance of nature thing and asked if he was going on one of his environmental diatribes." He gave me a look and said, "I'd like to point out that everything we do has an effect on the birds, but it's also our waters, and they can be a measure of our own healthy environment."

"OK! OK!"

I tried to change the subject by asking about its nest and he said, " It is a shallow, rather flimsy nest of sticks and other dry vegetation. The clutches (a complete set of eggs laid by one female) are 4 to 8 buff eggs with blotches and speckles of light brown. Incubation and care of the young is done by both parents. The newly hatched young are covered with dark brown down. A few days after leaving the nest, they accompany their parents for weeks continuing to obtain food from their parents until they are able to fly. Approaching the parent from behind, while it is removing a snail from a shell, the young Limpkin pulls the snail from the parent's bill, then swallows it whole. And I know you are trying to change the subject."

I get what your saying Bubba, If we expect to preserve and protect the Limpkin of Belize we must preserve and protect their special food source and its environment also.

Birds of Ambergris Caye

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