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Black Skimmer

Rynchops niger


Adult Description Medium-sized to large waterbird. Long red and black bill; lower half longest. Black back and cap. Underparts white. Very short red legs. Long, pointd wings.


Black Skimmers favor coastal waters protected from open surf, such as lagoons, inlets, sheltered bays, and estuaries. Local populations are found on inland lakes in Florida, and along California's Salton Sea. They nest on sandy beaches and islands.


The Black Skimmer is distinctive for its unusual voice, brightly colored bill, and "skimming" behavior. When feeding, this coastal waterbird flies low, its long lower mandible slicing the water's surface in search of fish. The skimmer's long wings enable hairpin turns; flocks often wheel in unison. The bird's buoyant flight and dog-like barks inspired famed ornithologist R. C. Murphy in 1936 to describe them as "unworldly…aerial beagles hot on the scent of aerial rabbits."

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Spotted by

Florida, USA

Spotted on May 30, 2013
Submitted on May 30, 2013

Spotted for Mission

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