Friday, March 26, 2010

Black Skimmers--The Oddest Bird on the Beach

I have entirely too many things I want to share with ya'll. The rest of my February trip to Florida. My last trip to Florida. A walk along the Platte River in northern Michigan from a few weekends ago. Pictures of chorus frogs in a pond in the rec area nearby. What's a girl to do?!? Start with something unusual, I suppose, and there are not many birds more unusual than the black skimmer.

The skimmer is an unusual bird for many reasons. According to Sibley, they hunt primarily at dusk and dawn, and often at night, when the small fish they prey on are nearer the surface. Their eyes are small but have large pupils for better night vision, and much like other nocturnal creatures have vertically-slanted pupils that help shut out bright sunlight.

Below you can see how much longer the lower bill is than the upper.

They hunt by feel, flying low and dipping their long lower bill into the water, waiting for something to bump into it.

This is kind of blown up too much, but it shows the knife-like bill of the skimmer, streamlined I supposed for slicing through the water.

After the sun came up and the sky brightened, I was able to capture a nice series of shots of a skimmer flying by.

There was some beautiful light out there that morning, so expect to see more posts from this day.

1 comment:

  1. Ah ha! The name of the bird we see at dusk diving for food near Wilmington, NC. And beautiful to watch. Took a long look at the, what fun this is, learning new things. Thanks!!