Sarasota News Leader

10/19/2012

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ASK OTUS WITH EXPECTED AND UNEXPECTED SIGHTINGS, READERS CHARMED AND ENTRANCED Dear Otus: Thanks for the tip on Celery Fields and the Limpkins. I went to the boardwalk on Ray- mond Road and saw two! Interesting bird, ac- tually very large and handsome. I watched as it gathered snails, one at a time, for dinner. I did not hear it scream though. Mike Dear Mike, Although Limpkins are largely nocturnal and crepuscular, in Florida wildlife sanctuaries, such as Celery Fields, they seemingly have no fear of people and are active during the day. It fluffs up my feathers to learn that you trusted my advice to visit Celery Fields, where you saw two of them! Limpkins are about the same size and weight of the American white ibis. Did you know that limpkin chicks are born downy-feathered and capable of walking, run- ning, swimming and foraging for food the very day they are hatched? That's impressive! Two weeks ago, I showed readers a charming photo of a parent feeding its small precocial chick. Today, I'm pleased to include a lovely photo capturing a tender moment as a parent feeds its now grown-up chick an apple snail, the absolute favorite food of the Limpkins. The only problem with this picture, as I see it, is that the chick reaches adult size seven weeks after hatching but remains dependent on parents until it is 16 weeks of age. What a mama's chick! At 16 weeks, I, born altricial, had my very own tree perch and didn't have to raid mommy's larder for a midnight mouse snack. That's really impressive! An adult Limpkin feeds its grown-up chick an extra special treat — an apple snail. Photo courtesy of Rick Greenspun

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