Hello Florida Birders,

Having grown up in the Maitland/Winter Park area where I started birdwatching
in the 1940's, I can recall when limpkins were found ONLY in the spring runs
of places such as Rock Springs, Starbuck Springs (Girl Scout Camp) and
Wakulla Springs.  Later, as the food sources there diminished, the birds
seemed to adapt, and I remember seeing three in Lake Estelle at the old
swimming hole at the corner of the Mills Causeway and Rollins Avenue in
Orlando.  This was in the early 1960's, and then Florida Audubon Society
Executive Director C. Russell Mason and I talked about it on a radio program
we hosted back then called AUDUBON HIGHLIGHTS broadcast from Rollins' WPRK-FM
and distributed to several other radio stations from Pensacola to Key West.
That limpkin sighting was a real surprise, but by the time I moved from
Florida in 1979, it was not uncommon to see limpkins in other lakes and

Imagine my shock, however, when I stopped at the Florida Welcome Station on
I-75 near Jennings on my southbound trip "home" for Christmas of 1988 and saw
one lone limpkin walking around on the grounds in the picnic area foraging
for "left overs".  I saw and photographed the bird picking up bits of
sandwich leavings as well as picking up and shaking food out of fast food
wrappers.  At one point, it shook almost half a hamburger out of a
MacDonald's (no commercial--just the fact) wrapper and devoured it.  I took
the time to watch this bird for well over an hour as it made its complete
rounds of the back side of the picnic area picking up and eating most
everything it could find including French fries.  It rejected very little
"human food" that it found.  I remember tape recording my comments "Thank God
these birds seem to be adapting as man continues to encroach upon their
habitats; that perhaps there is greater hope for the species than I had
thought."  Long live these precious limpkins.  They constitute one of my
favorite species.  Also, well known Tennessee birder, Jeff "the Old Coot"
Wilson found an photographed one (or maybe two) of them in West Tennessee in
the past year or so.  Maybe they're expanding their territory???

By the way, my fifteenth birthday present was a check from my father to the
Florida Audubon Society for a Life Membership for me which cost $50.00 in
1949.  I still have the receipt for that membership signed by then Executive
Director Merritt C. Farrar.  With all the moving around I've done, Florida
Audubon has apparently "lost" me and probably think I died somewhere along
the line as I have not heard from them in years.

Good birding to you down there.  Maybe one of these days I can afford to go
back and see some of those "new" residents which have moved in since I left.
I'm still birding and have a yard full of the more common species and their
babies which come to my "birdabord" to fill up on peanut butter, apple,
orange, grape jelly, homemade suet cakes, sunflower & mixed seeds.  Three
families of mockingbirds come, and those parents are UNpeacefully coexisting.
 The mockingbirds feed off the first four items I just listed.


Doris M. "Dee" Thompson
Nashville, TN.

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