Merritt Island, Florida
24.000 x 18.000 x 0.250 inches
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Painting - Acrylic On Hardwood Board
Florida is the only state in the U.S. where Limpkins breed. They can be found year-round throughout Florida except for the western panhandle. When they aren’t searching for apple snails and freshwater clams, Limpkins can often be found sitting on snags or skulking in reed beds close to the water’s edge. They are locally known as the "wailing bird" or "crying bird." This is due to their loud mournful call, usually issued at night by territorial males. The Limpkin is listed in Florida as a species of special concern due to habitat loss.
This one is about to attack another limpkin, who is feeding too close to him. He is just beginning to fluff up his feathers, making himself look big. It looked as if he doubled in size when its feathers were fluffed out. He opened his beak and stuck out his long pointed tongue! Yes, that really happened. This is the moment before the battle. They didn't actually tussle with each other. It was all about bluster and threats. When the intruder backed off, this limpkin calmly reached down through the water and pulled up a snail. Quick as could be, he ate the contents from the shell and walked past me along the marsh shore.
The Limpkin's bill is uniquely adapted to foraging on apple snails. The closed bill has a gap just before the tip that makes the bill act like tweezers. The tip itself is often curved slightly to the right so it can be slipped into the right-handed chamber of the snail. Sometimes, it takes frogs, tadpoles, and aquatic insects.
The Limpkin is the only member of its taxonomic family. Although it resembles herons and ibises in general form, the Limpkin is generally considered to be more closely related to rails and cranes.
I was feeling tension as I watched this scene unfold. I had just received some difficult news and was trying to relax in the world of nature. The tension seemed to translate to the little limpkin. Funny how that is so often the case when you are creating art. I based this on a scene at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.
February 25th, 2014
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