On April 30, 2008 I was photographing Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) on the north beach of Fort De Soto when one of the birds started exhibiting a behavior that I had not seen in Black Skimmers before. There are times when the male Black Skimmer passes a fish, leaf or twig to the female skimmer before copulation but in this case there weren’t any other Black Skimmers within 20 to 25 feet and they weren’t paying attention to this bird at all. It was breeding season.
The Black Skimmer had a Mangrove seed pod in its bill and it was twirling the seed pod with its bill, at times the seed pod even went over the top of the bill but unfortunately I didn’t get any images of that. The images below are posted in sequential order.
I never saw this behavior exhibited by a Black Skimmer after this event. I researched Black Skimmer behavior on BNA (Birds of North America) and there is no mention of Black Skimmers twirling objects with their bills. The seed pod twirling was fascinating and since that time I have been curious about it. If anyone has an idea why this bird twirled the mangrove seed pod around, I’d love to hear from you.
Mia McPherson, OntheWingPhotography.com