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Black Skimmer

About Black Skimmer

Long-winged, with short legs and heavy head; the big bill is flattened sideways, with the lower mandible longer than the upper one. Plumage black on crown, back and upperwings, with white face and underparts; legs red; bill red with black tip.

They form compact breeding colonies, usually near other seabirds. Their nests are unlined and scraped in sand or shell debris above high-tide mark. They have 3-5 whitish or buff eggs, spotted, blotched and scribbled with dark brown, purple and gray. Both parents take care of the eggs, although the female does more, for 23-25 days

This bird is named for the habit of skimming the water when feeding. It’s favorite prey are small fish.

The Black Skimmer feeds at dusk and dawn, and on moonlit nights. The eyes have large pupils so it can see well in dim night light. To prevent it from being blind by the bright light on a sunny day, the pupils do not contract to a circle as in other birds, but narrow to vertical slits, so not as much light reaches the retina. Feeding after dark helps the skimmer to have an easier time hunting for food because not as many birds are hunting as they are all asleep.

The Black Skimmer flies inches above the water, and skims the surface of the water with its mandible blade-like bill open and as soon as this touches prey, it snaps its bill shut and traps its food.