Black Skimmer

Rynchops niger




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pink or blue with brown, lavender and gray marks

Number of Eggs:

4 - 5

Incubation Days:

21 - 23

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

No material added to nest.


Some migrate



Black Skimmer: Odd-looking, tern-like bird with black upperparts and white underparts. Bill is bright orange and black-tipped bill with lower mandible longer than upper. Long, slim wings are dark above and silver-gray below. Tail is white with black central feathers. Legs and feet are red. Female is distinctly smaller than male and has smaller bill. Winter adult is similar to breeding adult but has white nape. Juvenile has duller, shorter bill, brown-mottled upperparts, and yellow legs.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

Black Skimmer: Four to five blue or pink eggs with brown, lavender, and gray marks are laid in a simple scrape on the ground or depression in vegetation. Incubation ranges from 21 to 23 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Black Skimmer: Feeds on fish and shrimp. Forages by flying low with open bill, dipping the lower mandible into the water and slicing through the surface; upon sensing a fish, the bird snaps its upper bill shut, seizing its prey.


Black Skimmer: Call is a loud bark, given singly or in series.

Similar Species

Black Skimmer: American Oystercatcher has shorter wings with larger white patches and red bill lacks black tip.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X