Open or Shut?

     As I was shooting a sunset the other day something swooped by.  It was low tide and this bird was like a shadow going by so fast. I knew exactly what it was. A Black Skimmer. I saw these last spring for the first time and got some photos then during a photography workshop I took.  I hoped I would see it again in the daylight. And I did.

The Black Skimmer is the only American member of the skimmer family. The other two, the Indian and African skimmer feed in a similar manner. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology “The remarkable bill of the Black Skimmer sets it apart from all other American birds. The large red and black bill is knife-thin and the lower mandible is longer than the upper. The bird drags the lower bill through the water as it flies along, hoping to catch small fish.”  The two halves of the bill are the same length at birth but within a month the lower mandible is about a half inch longer. Breeding adults have a black head and continuous black feathers down the back and wings. Non Breeding adults have a speckled head and white band around the back of the neck. The ones I see tonight are not yet in breeding colors.   Several skimmers are out in the river and they swoop around the channel near our dock. I position myself to catch them swoop by in the fading evening light. One of the birds obliges me a bit and swoops overhead and then comes head first towards me giving me some better light and close up opportunities. They are fast movers though and in just a few minutes they are gone elsewhere on the Broward. I hope you enjoy them. 

     The skimmer philosophy is that if you keep your mouth open long enough something is sure to fall into it. What a way to eat. Sometimes we too open our mouths a lot. Not so much to eat but to speak out. And it is not what falls into it that gets us in trouble. It is what comes out of it that can cause the problem. Don’t go by the skimmer creed. Think before you speak. It will save you a lot of heartache later. And by keeping it closed on these spring days the flies can’t get in either. You think about it. In the meantime, Be Blessed. Harry

Black Skimmers swoop low over the Broward with their beaks skimming the water for fish.

Black Skimmer swoops by at sunset.

Its lower jaw in the water, the skimmer hopes to snatch a fish as it flies along.

The lower jaw or mandible is much longer than the upper one.

Hmmm, open or shut, which catches more fish (or flies)?

Don't laugh, it works!

Ohh, i missed that one!

Black Skimmer in mating/breeding colors, photo taken Mar 12

See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil skimmer style!

Non breeding colors on Black Skimmer. 


All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.