What a bill! It’s the Black Skimmer’s most remarkable feature, with a lower mandible longer than the upper.

This species' unusual bill allows it to skim the water's surface in search of fish, leading to the bird's common name.

Highly social, Black Skimmers are closely related to terns, including Least Tern. They roost and breed in colonies that can include thousands of pairs. Successful colonies often occupy the same nest sites each year, usually on sandy or gravelly bars and beaches.

Black Skimmers in flight are like watching an aerial ballet: They circle, bank, and even alight as one.

Skimmers Sliding Downhill

Although still widespread and fairly common, Black Skimmer numbers are decreasing. The bird is included on the 2014 Watch List as a species of concern, and more resources are needed to bring attention to the plight of this species.

A major threat to Black Skimmers is habitat loss from coastal development and human disturbance, such as people walking or driving through nesting areas. As a ground nester, this species is also preyed upon by cats and affected by threats to fish populations.

Beach-nesters Beware

One of the major problems that beach-nesting birds face is that people love the beach, too. Often, beach-goers are unaware that their activities can cause problems for the birds.

We're working with states along the Gulf Coast to increase awareness of the issues.

From posting educational signs and conducting boater awareness surveys to distributing breeding bird guides and creating public service announcements, our Beach-nesting Birds Program is bringing back populations of Black Skimmer and other species, such as Snowy Plover and Least Tern.