Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)

February 2023
Written By: 
Grand Strand Magazine Staff
Photographs by: 
courtesy of shutterstock

In the late 19th century, Black Skimmer eggs were harvested commercially, and adults were killed for their feathers, leading to a reduction of Atlantic Coast populations. There has been a good recovery of numbers since.

- The strange, uneven bill of the skimmer has a purpose: the bird flies low, with the long, lower mandible plowing the water, snapping the bill shut when it contacts a fish.

- Strictly coastal in most areas of North America, Black Skimmers are often seen resting on sandbars and beaches.

- The Black Skimmer Finds food by touch, not by sight.

- Flocks in flight may turn in unison, with synchronized beats of their long wings.

- They often forage in late evening or at night, when the water may be calmer and more fish may be close to the surface. Rarely, they may forage by wading in very shallow water, scooping up fish.

- Unlike most birds, their eyes have vertical pupils, narrowed to slits to cut the glare of water and white sand.