Black Skimmer

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Common Name: Black Skimmer
Scientific Name: Rynchops niger

Size: 16-19 inches (40-50 cm)

Habitat: North and South America; United Sates East Coast, the Caribbean and the Amazon Basin. Northern populations winter in the warmer waters of the Caribbean and the tropical and subtropical Pacific coasts, but the South American races make only shorter movements in response to annual floods which extend their feeding areas in the river shallows.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 120,000 - 210,000 mature individuals. Populations were declining in 1970s, but appear to have stabilized in most places.

Diet: Small fish or crustaceans. They feed usually in large flocks, flying low over the water surface with the lower mandible skimming the water, caught by touch by day or especially at night.

Nesting: The Black Skimmer breeds in loose groups on sandbanks and sandy beaches in the Americas, the three to seven heavily dark-blotched buff or bluish eggs being incubated by both the male and female. The chicks leave the nest as soon as they hatch and lie inconspicuously in the nest depression or "scrape" where they are shaded from high temperatures by the parents. They may dig their own depressions in the sand at times. Parents feed the young almost exclusively during the day with almost no feeding occurring at night, due to the entire population of adults sometimes departing the colony to forage. Although the mandibles are of equal length at hatching, they rapidly become unequal during fledging.

Cool Facts: Skimmers have a light graceful flight, with steady beats of their long wings. They spend much time loafing gregariously on sandbars in the rivers, coasts and lagoons they frequent.

Found in Songbird ReMix Seabirds 1

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