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The Black Skimmer is the largest of the three skimmer species. It measures 40–50 cm (16–20 in) long with a 107–127 cm (42–50 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 female’s 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.
open sandy beaches, on gravel or shell bars with sparse vegetation, or on mats of sea wrack (tide-stranded debris) in saltmarsh. Skimmers are occasionally seen at inland lakes such as the Salton Sea of California. Much of this species' original beach habitat has been developed as houses and attractions for beachgoers. Particularly in the southeastern U.S., artificial islands made from dredge spoils are an important nesting habitat for this and other species.
•The Black Skimmer is the only American representative of the skimmer family. The other two, rather similar, species are the African Skimmer and the Indian Skimmer. All use the same unusual feeding method.