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Black Skimmer

Silhouette SkimmersSkimmers
Black SkimmerRynchops niger
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Laridae

Basic Description

A long-winged bird with stark black-and-white plumage, the Black Skimmer has a unique grace as it forages in flight. Skimmers feed by opening the bill and dropping the long, narrow lower mandible into the water, skimming along until they feel a fish. Then they relax the neck, quickly closing their jaws and whipping the fish out of the water. Because they feed by essentially by touch, they can even forage at night. The world’s three species of skimmers are the only birds on earth that feed in this manner.

More ID Info
image of range map for Black Skimmer
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Look for Black Skimmers on barrier islands and ocean beaches. Like terns, skimmers nest and rest in predictable spots, making them easy to locate by asking a local birder or angler. A spotting scope is useful to enjoy skimmers at a distance without disturbing their colonies. When foraging, skimmers often pay little attention to people, sometimes flying within a few feet of bathers and boats.

Other Names

  • Rayador Americano (Spanish)
  • Bec-en-ciseaux noir (French)
  • Cool Facts