Doug Hayes, of “Breakfast Crew” fame and also a photographer of dancers, favors us today with photos of a bird rarely seen in his parts (Richmond, VA). His captions are indented and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
Word recently went out over the local birding web sites and Facebook groups that a limpkin (Aramus guarauna) had been sighted in Three Lakes Park and Nature Center, located about ten minutes outside of Richmond. Naturally, this mobilized the Bird Nerds. At any given time, there were ten or more of us photographing the bird. Limpkins are tropical wetlands birds whose territory covers South and Central America and extends northward into Florida. [See range map at bottom.]
The birds spend much of their time probing the water and mud for shellfish and other aquatic invertebrates. This specimen found and ate several large freshwater mussels as we watched. With food this plentiful, the bird will probably linger in the area until the weather turns cooler. Of concern is that limpkins have little fear of humans and on several occasions this one has walked very close to people and sometimes wandered around the parking lots. Hopefully, people will respect the animal and not harm it.
The limpkin wandering along the edge of a stream in search of food. Totally unafraid of people, it actually walked between two of the photographers photographing it:
Doing a bit of preening after a successful hunt for mussels:
Enjoying a good scratch:
Back on the hunt:
Eureka! A large freshwater mussel!:
After finding the mussel, the limpkin carried it out of the shade and into the harsh morning sunlight, so the pictures are not so good here. It made quick work of opening the shell:
And even quicker work plucking the mussel from the shell:
Enjoying the feast!:
Here’s the limpkin’s ange map from the Cornell Site All About Birds. They are nonmigratory, so this is their year-round range. The map adds, “Not migratory but dispersing individuals are occasionally found far from range, especially during severe drought.” Doug’s bird was very far from home!
Camera info: Sony A7RV camera body, Sony FE 200-600 lens + 1.4X teleconverter, iFootage Cobra 2 monopod, Neewer gimbal tripod head. I did not have to use digital zoom as the bird stayed so close most of the time