Black skimmers are about the size of a crow. They are black on top and white
on the bottom. Their webbed feet are bright orange. Their bill is very long with
the lower bill 2-3 c.m. longer than their upper bill. The pupil of their eye can
become very narrow, as a cats eye. Males are larger than females.
Black Skimmer by Terry Foote
Black skimmers are classified as a threatened species in Maryland by DNR.
They are a summer resident, coming here to breed. They are present here from
April to November, preferring to nest in colonies on coastal beaches and dredge
spoil islands. The 150-350 pairs which nest in Maryland are concentrated in
Maryland along the Atlantic coast of Worcester County. Some will also breed in
the lower Chesapeake Bay adjacent to Dorchester County. Black skimmers spend the
winter along the southeast coast, South Carolina to Florida.
Skimmers are named such because of the way they feed. Skimmers fly low over
the water, skimming the surface with their lower bill. When food, usually a
small fish is encountered, the skimmer will quickly closes its mouth, capturing
it's meal. Black skimmers will catch most of their food (small fish) this way.
They will also catch shrimp and other small crustaceans in this manner. Although
active during the day, Black skimmers will do a lot of their feeding at night.
The black skimmer is the only kind of skimmer in Maryland.
Although black skimmers are a water bird with webbed feet, it is unusual for
them to be seen on the water swimming. They're either in the air or on the
ground. Loss of nesting sites and disturbances on their breeding grounds are a
major reason why black skimmers are threatened in Maryland.
Drawing by W.H. Henry
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401