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2023 August Bird

The featured bird for August 2023 is the Black Skimmer.

flock of skimmers, black and white birds, black and orange bill, flying low over water, Gulf of Mexico

Skimmers are shorebirds that as their name suggests, skim over the water with their bill open until they feel a fish. Then they quickly close the bill, pulling the fish out of the water as they continue their flight. The three species of skimmers are the only ones that use this method of catching their food.

Family: Laridae
Species: Rynchops niger
Length: 15.8-19.7 in (40-50 cm)
Wingspan: 42.9-45.3 in (109-115 cm)
Weight: 9.3-12.9 oz (265-365 g)

Skimmers stand out from the crowd of terns and seagulls with their bright orange marking on their large bill. Significant about that bill is that the lower part (mandible) is larger than the top part.

Here in Florida, they mostly forage in the evening in the shallow water right at the beach line – making it easy to observe them. They also nest right on the beach, making a depression in the sand for their eggs and chicks. Of course, with this kind of nesting habit they are in danger of getting disturbed by humans visiting our beaches. So if you see skimmers sitting in the sand, please keep your distance.

Taking this photo was one of those magic “freeze time and place” moments as I moved my camera along with the birds flying and took the photo as they were right in front of me. I was overjoyed when I realized the photo had come out sharp and without any motion blur.

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