I felt fortunate to spend a bit of quality time last week with this Limpkin (Aramus guarauna). It is the closest I’ve yet seen one, the others I encountered during my last trip to Florida were much more reticent to being photographed.
Two things I would’ve liked to have experienced: their limping gait (hence their name) and their wailing cry. I’ve read that you can often hear them before you see them. While it shares a common ancestor with cranes, the Limpkin is the only extant survivor of its lineage. Unlike cranes, which are resourceful, unfussy eaters, Limpkins primarily specialize in apple snails (up to 70% of their diet).
This one’s missing toe may be the result of a turtle attack (the birds often stand on floating vegetation and are therefore susceptible to turtle bites).