This year, our friends at the Beach House restaurant decided to cancel their annual fireworks display due to the Black Skimmer birds that are currently nesting at the north end of their property. Kudos to them for helping protect these Anna Maria Island residents! These shorebirds are national treasures and have recently been placed on the “Species of Special Concern” list. Here are some interesting facts about the Black Skimmers and all good reasons to protect this incredible species.
Black Skimmers are well, black! Actually, they are black on the top and white underneath and where the black and white meet on their face, it gives them a cool “masked” look. The most notable thing about their look is their beak. The Skimmer’s beak is bright orange with a black tip. But what’s even more interesting about their beak is the that the bottom portion is longer than the top portion.
Called “Skimmers” for Good Reason
The reason their beak is longer on the bottom and smaller on the bottom is to help them “skim” for their food. The birds fly just above the water and open their beak so the lower portion drags through the water. This is how they “skim” for their food, catching small minnows in the lower portion of their beak.
Nesting Habitat Threatened
One of the reasons the Black Skimmers are becoming more rare to see is because coastal development has lessened their nesting areas. Skimmers build their nests on the ground and in the sand along the Gulf shores. Since the beaches are very busy with humans, it makes their nesting areas vulnerable to human disturbance.
Don’t Bother Them When They are Nesting!
If you see them nesting, do not get too close. They will create a “mob” and gang up on you. Yes, that’s right, you don’t want to encounter a gang of Skimmers! Stay away and let them protect their eggs and babies.
But next time you are out at the beach in the early evening, keep an eye out for the birds as they “skim” for bait fish at the edge of the water. When they are feeding, they will not “mob” you and watching them catch their dinner is a real treat!