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Black Skimmer

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About the Black Skimmer

Also known as: American Skimmer

The Black Skimmer is a species of seabird related to terns, gulls, and skuas. Black Skimmers live and breed in the Americas, with some populations migrating to warmer climates for the winter, while others remain year-round. Skimmers are recognizable by their elongated lower mandibles (lower beak).

Black Skimmers in breeding plumage are black on the crown and upper body, with white underparts and foreheads. Our cute Birdorable version of this bird is a breeding adult. Year-round, Skimmers have remarkable beaks with elongated lower mandibles. The beak is black towards the tip and bright orange closer to the face.

Black Skimmers use their beaks in feeding. They fly low over the water and skim the water with their lower mandible. They use this technique to pick up food which includes small fish, insects, and crustaceans.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 02 December 2010
Scientific Name Rynchops niger
  • Charadriiformes
  • Rynchopidae
  • Rynchops
  • R. niger
Birdorable Family Terns & Gulls
Conservation Status Least Concern
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
(as of 15 September 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
18 inches
44 inches
11 ounces
Range North America Central America Caribbean South America United States (West) United States (East)

International Names

  • Talha-mar (Brazilian)
  • zoboun americký (Czech)
  • Amerikansk Saksnæb (Danish)
  • Amerikaanse Schaarbek (Dutch)
  • amerikansaksinokka (Finnish)
  • Bec-en-ciseaux noir (French)
  • Amerikanischer Scherenschnabel (German)
  • Becco a cesoie americano (Italian)
  • クロハサミアジサシ (kurohasamiajisashi) (Japanese)
  • Amerikasaksenebb (Norwegian)
  • brzytwodziób amerykanski (Polish)
  • Rayador Americano (Spanish)
  • Amerikansk saxnäbb (Swedish)

Related articles

Ten facts about Black Skimmers

Ten facts about Black Skimmers

1. Black Skimmers use their elongated lower mandibles to feed by skimming it over the water. 2. Baby Black Skimmers are born with their upper and lower mandibles the same length. The longer ... more
Baby Birdorable: Black Skimmer

Baby Birdorable: Black Skimmer

If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the Black Skimmer. Black Skimmers ... more