Black Skimmer: Odd-looking, tern-like bird with black upperparts and white underparts. Bright red bill with black tip, lower mandible longer than upper. Long, slim wings are dark above and silver-gray below. Tail is white with black central feathers. Legs, feet are red. Direct flight.
Range and Habitat
Black Skimmer: Breeds along Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Massachusetts and Long Island to Florida and Texas. Spends winters north to southern California and Virginia; also in Central and South America. Preferred habitats include sandy or gravelly bars and beaches, shallow bays, estuaries, and salt marsh pools.
At hatching, the two mandibles are equal in length, but by fledging at four weeks, the lower mandible is already nearly 1 cm longer than the upper.
Development and increased beach traffic pose a major threat to many of their traditional nesting grounds. Even a slight disturbance in the colony reduces the rate of nesting success.
The Black Skimmer is the only bird species in the United States that has a larger lower mandible than upper mandible.
A group of skimmers are collectively known as a "conspiracy", "embezzlement", and "scoop" of skimmers.