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Black Skimmer

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;Rynchops niger ;Rynchops niger
-[[Image:Black_Skimmer.jpg|thumb|350px|right|Photo by Nick Richter]]+[[Image:Black_Skimmer.jpg|thumb|550px|right|Photo by Nick Richter]]
==Description== ==Description==
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Revision as of 16:56, 3 July 2007

Rynchops niger
Photo by Nick Richter
Photo by Nick Richter





18" (46 cm). Black above, white below, with red legs. Bill red with black tip, laterally compressed, blade-like. Unique among birds in having lower mandible much longer (about one-third) than the upper. Immature mottled above, with shorter bill.



Breeds chiefly on sandbars and beaches; feeds in shallow bays, inlets, and estuaries.



3 or 4 brown-blotched buff eggs on bare sand, usually among shell fragments and scattered grass clumps.



Breeds along Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Massachusetts and Long Island to Florida and Texas. Winters north to southern California and Virginia. Also in American tropics.



Short barking notes.



This extraordinary bird, especially when in flight, can hardly fail to impress even the most casual observer. Usually only one or two are seen as they skim the surface for fish, with the tip of the lower mandible cutting through the water. They also wade in shallow water, jabbing at the fish scattering before them. Compact flocks may be seen flying in unison, wheeling in one direction and then another -- showing first the jet black of the wings, then the gleaming white of the underparts. They are especially attracted to the sand fill of newly dredged areas; such places sometimes contain colonies of up to 200 pairs. These sites are usually temporary, abandoned as soon as too much grass appears.</i>


Photographed in Irvine, California.

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