Marylandís only skimmer is about the size of a crow. Itís black on top and white on bottom with bright orange webbed feet and a very long bill. Yet itís unusual to see this water bird swimming -- they're usually either in the air or on the ground.
Skimmers are named for how they feed, flying low over the water and skimming the surface with their lower bill. When food -- usually a small fish, shrimp or other small crustaceans -- is encountered, the skimmer quickly closes its mouth and captures its meal. Active during the day, black skimmers also do a lot of feeding at night.
From April to November black skimmers come to the region to breed, nesting in colonies on coastal beaches and dredge spoil islands. While Marylandís estimated 150 to 350 nesting pairs are concentrated along the Atlantic coast of Worcester County, some also breed in the lower Chesapeake Bay adjacent to Dorchester County. Black skimmers winter along the southeast coast from South Carolina to Florida.
Black skimmers are classified as threatened in Maryland due to loss of nesting sites and disturbances on their breeding grounds.
(top left) of a Black Skimmers
(bottom right) of a Black Skimmers Nesting on Beach
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