Family Limpkin (Aramidae)

Least Concern

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)


French: Courlan brun German: Rallenkranich Spanish: Carrao

Scopolax [sic] Guarauna


, 1766,



This species was formerly known as A. scolopaceus, but that name is pre-dated by guarauna; in the past, South American birds were on occasion split into two races, scolopaceus (Colombia to C Brazil) and carau (S Brazil to Paraguay, Uruguay and N Argentina). N populations were at one time considered to constitute a separate species, A. pictus; although Nearctic and Neotropical individuals differ significantly in size and plumage, Central American populations form a bridge, with a steady reduction in size and amount of white streaking from N to S. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. g. pictus (F. A. A. Meyer, 1794) – Florida, Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica.
  • A. g. elucus J. L. Peters, 1925 – Hispaniola; extirpated from Puerto Rico.
  • A. g. dolosus J. L. Peters, 1925 – SE Mexico (from S Veracruz and SE Oaxaca) to W Panama (Bocas del Toro); has recently spread to WC Mexico (Nayarit, Colima).
  • A. g. guarauna (Linnaeus, 1766) – C & E Panama and South America (except arid W coast, Andes, most of N Amazon Basin, and extreme S).
  • Descriptive notes

    56–71 cm; male 1420 g (nominate, n = 1), male 1130–1370 g, female 880–1170 g (race pictus); wingspan 100+ cm. All darkish oily brown, with... read more


    Perhaps most vocal at dusk and by night, calling both from the ground and atop trees, with the most... read more


    Freshwater river and lake margins, open freshwater marshes, margins of mangroves, and in some areas... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds primarily on apple snails (Pomacea), but also takes other aquatic snails, and mussels; in terrestrial habitats, diet... read more


    Nesting season varies with region: Feb–Jun in Florida, all months in Cuba, Apr–Nov in Jamaica, Apr–Jun in Hispaniola, Jul... read more


    Sedentary in many areas, although in Florida partial migration occurs in some breeding habitats,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common with extensive distribution. In Florida and West Indies, many populations decimated by hunting in late 19th century... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bryan, D.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Limpkin (Aramus guarauna). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 March 2019).