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Black Skimmer

Rynchops niger

The Black Skimmer is a specialist feeder. Though it may not look like the rest of its cousins, it is considered a proper member of the tern family. It’s a wonderful sight to watch these birds forage over the still waters of a bay or lagoon.

These birds are part of the nesting community in South San Diego Bay, where I have been privileged to accompany biologists on their tern surveys during nesting. Caspian Terns have a reputation for aggressiveness and attacking intruders, but the only blood-letting episode I have witnessed was caused by a Black Skimmer wing-whipping my friend Brian from behind, giving him a bloody ear.

From 1966 to 2015, the Black Skimmer has decreased its population by 4% per year, resulting in a population reduction of 87% over that period. They have been designated as a “species of high concern”. There are many obstacles to their nesting success, not the least of which is their dependence on beach sites loved by homosapiens for recreation.

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