The black skimmer (Rynchops niger) is a tern-like seabird, one of three very similar birds species in
the skimmer family. It breeds in North and South America. 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.
The black skimmer is the largest of the three skimmer species. It measures 4050 cm (1620 in)
long with a 107127 cm (4250 in) wingspan. This species ranges from 212 to 447 g (7.5 to 15.8 oz), with males
averaging about 349 g (12.3 oz), as compared to the smaller females 254 g (9.0 oz). The basal half of the bill
is red, the rest mainly black, and the lower mandible is much-elongated. The eye has a dark brown iris and catlike
vertical pupil, unique for a bird. The legs are red. The call is a barking kak-kak-kak.
Adults in breeding plumage have a black crown, nape and upper body. The forehead and underparts are white.
The upper wings are black with white on the rear edge, and the tail and rump are dark grey with white edges.
The underwing colour varies from white to dusky grey depending on region.
Non-breeding adults have paler and browner upperparts, and a white nape collar. Immature birds have brown
upperparts with white feather tips and fringes.
The underparts and forehead are white, and the underwings as the
Skimmers have a light graceful flight, with steady beats of their long wings. They feed usually in large flocks,
flying low over the water surface with the lower mandible skimming the water (in order of importance)
for small fish, insects, crustaceans and molluscs caught by touch by day or especially at night.
They spend much time loafing gregariously on sandbars in the rivers, coasts and lagoons they frequent.
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.
Key Words: black skimmer, Rynchops niger, Amerikanischer Scherenschnabel, brzytwodziób amerykanski, Amerikasaksenebb,
kurohasamiajisashi, Amerikaanse Schaarbek, Amerikansk Saksnęb, Bec-en-ciseaux noir, Rayador Americano,
Amerikansk saxnäbb, seabird, white nape collar, crustaceans, molluscs, animal, animalia, aves, avian, chordata,
Charadriiformes, Rynchopidae, bird, vogel, wildlife, wildlifepics, dennis binda, dabinda