On the west coast of Florida there are around 500 black skimmers that return to the same place each year to nest. For us who live in Florida, it is a wonderful opportunity to watch and photograph their mating rituals, nesting behaviors and interactions with their chicks. Black skimmers are a smallfamily of tern-like birds in the order Charadriiformes, which also includes the waders, gulls and auks. Along with their lower mandibles being longer than the upper, which helps them when they fly low and fast over the water to collect their food, they also have an additional adaptation, slit-shaped pupils. Their bills fall within their field of binocular vision and enable them to carefully position their bill to capture the fish. They usually lay 3-6 eggs in very shallow nests, on sandy beaches, with the female incubating the eggs. As with the least terns, because of the restricted nesting habitat, with very shallow nests, they are both very susceptible to storms and pedators, such as gulls and feral cats. Unfortunately I found outtoday this colony was destroyed because of Tropical Storm Debby, this past weekend. Fortunately, I was able to visit this colony twice in the past several months.These are a few of the images that I captured duringmy visits.
Black Skimmers Mating
Black Skimmer Parent Feeding Its Chick
Black Skimmer Chicks
Black Skimmer Parent with Its Chick