Limpkins Head North

Limpkins are large shorebirds that are usually found in the south – I usually see one or two every time I go to Florida.  The last two years several of them have shown up here in the “north” (Illinois, Michigan and Ohio).  Because our temperatures here are not as warm as Florida’s it’s unlikely that warming temperatures have expanded their range that much.  A more plausible explanation is the availably of food – snails and mussels.  There are an abundance of invasive species of both snail and mussels here so the birds go where the food is.

It’s hard to tell how many have been in Illinois this summer, although they have been spotted in at least three areas that are quite distant from each other.  When these rare birds (to Illinois) show up our intrepid GBP photographers head off to get shots of them.  Here are several from Illinois and one from Ohio taken this year:

LinLark went out to the Chicago Botanical Gardens three times to get a photograph this Limpkin.  It was there for several weeks and provided many birders their Illinois “Lifer” Limpkin.  Note the mussel it has extracted some meat from.


John Weisgerber found his Limpkin at Fullersberg Woods Forest Preserve (about 30 miles south of the Botanical Gardens).  It was there for a week, disappeared and then reappeared recently.  If you look carefully it is carrying a snail in its beak.  With frost on the ground in the morning you’d think it would have headed back to Florida by now.


Emil Baumbach went “Big and Bold” for his Limpkin shot!  He said he photographed 4 different Limpkins in the area in one week.  I love the detail in this closeup and that little bit of branch hanging down in the background makes the whole photo more interesting.  Well done, Emil!


One more from our old friend Asteinmann, who we used to run into regularly but not since he moved to Ohio.  We miss you (and Rebecca!).  He found his Limpkin at Avon Lake, OH.


What the heck – I’ll add my Limpkin pic as well.  We saw this one at nearby Fullersburg Woods, too so not only did we get an Illinois Lifer we got a DuPage County Lifer!  We got pretty lucky with this one because when we arrived you could hardly see it through the bushes along the shoreline.  It sat there preening for a while and then it began foraging right in front of us!  Got some great looks.


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