limpkin

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limpkin

or

courlan

(ko͝or`lən), common terms for a long-legged, nonmigratory marsh bird, considered the connecting evolutionary link between the crane and the rail. They have a cranelike skeletal structure, but their digestive system, as well as their nesting habits and behavior, is raillike. There is only one species, Aramus quarauna, which is divided into 5 subspecies, some found exclusively in South America and the others found from South Carolina and Florida to Argentina. Limpkins are large (28 in./70 cm) grayish-brown birds that feed on freshwater snails and mollusks. Their name derives from their limping flight, with legs dangling and wingbeats jerky; although weak and infrequent fliers they are good swimmers. Limpkins roost in trees and nest in marsh grass or low bushes. They lay four to eight eggs per clutch with both male and female incubating the young. They are noisy birds; their sad call gives them the name "crying bird." Because limpkins were considered good food birds, they were almost wiped out in Florida and Georgia. Today, they are protected and are regaining their former abundance. Limpkins are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Gruiformes, family Aramidae.
References in periodicals archive ?
Bird lovers also are treated to sights of storks, herons, kingfishers, isises, and limpkins. Visitors see dozens of mammals and reptiles, including marsh deer, black howler monkeys, jaguar, alligators, anteaters, the crab-eating fox, iguana, the guinea pig-like capybara, and yellow anaconda snakes that can measure up to 33 feet long.
Watch for hawks, bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons, American egrets, snowy egrets, turkeys, black vultures, tricolored herons, little blue herons, limpkins and white ibis.
White-tailed ptarmigans provide that service at Mount Rainier and Rocky Mountain; Colima warblers and lucifer hummingbirds at Big Bend; wood storks, limpkins, short-tailed hawks, and white-crowned pigeons at Everglades; and bridled quail-dove at Virgin Islands.
Along this trail early in the morning, birders may see limpkins -- large wading birds with a tail-flicking gait and a mournful, wailing call.
Halfway around the loop drive, visitors disembark at an observation tower where frogs croak, insects buzz, gators splash, and limpkins wail from the moonlit marsh.