Black skimmer Facts

Black skimmer Facts
Black skimmer is seabird that is native to North and South America. This bird lives in large colonies that can be seen on the beaches, in the lagoons, bays and estuaries. Unfortunately, their habitats are often attractive to humans, who destroy their nests and disrupt their breeding habits. Besides habitat destruction, black skimmers are threatened by chemical pollution of the water, oil spills and predation by domestic animals. Number of black skimmers dropped in the 19th century when people hunted them because of their feathers and meat. Luckily, population of black skimmers is large and stable today. These birds are not on the list of endangered species.
Interesting Black skimmer Facts:
Black skimmers can reach 15.7 to 19.7 inches in length and 7.5 to 15.8 ounces of weight. Males are much larger than females.
Upper part of the body is covered with black feathers. Underside of the body is white. Beak is red at the base and black at the tip.
Black skimmer has large head, elongated beak with longer lower mandible and short legs with webbed feet.
Black skimmer has narrow, pointed wings and a wingspan of 42 to 50 inches.
Black skimmer is active at dusk and dawn (crepuscular animal). It occasionally hunts at night.
Black skimmer has vertical pupils that turn into narrow slits during the day to protect eyes from the sun which reflects from the surface of water and sand.
Black skimmers eat small fish, crustaceans and mollusks. They travel up to 5 miles offshore to find food.
Black skimmers fly close to the surface of water with open beak and submerged lower mandible. They use sense of touch to detect prey. Once the prey is detected, bird quickly closes its beak to catch the prey.
Main predators of black skimmers are gulls, dogs, cats and rats which target young birds and eggs.
Black skimmers are migratory birds. They spend winter on the Caribbean and on the subtropical coasts of Pacific Ocean.
Black skimmers produce bark-like sound (kak-kak-kak) for communication.
Black skimmers live in large colonies that can consist of few thousand mating couples.
Black skimmers are monogamous birds (one pair mate for a lifetime). Both parents take care of the eggs during the incubation and feed the chicks after hatching.
Female lays 2 to 5 eggs. Incubation period lasts 21 to 26 days. Chicks are able to leave the nest one week after hatching, but they depend on the food provided by their parents during the first month of their life. Lower and upper mandibles are equal in length at birth. Lower mandible becomes longer at the time when young bird learns to fly. Black skimmers reach sexual maturity at the age of one to three years.
Black skimmers can survive up to 20 years in the wild.

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