… are sea birds, occurring down the Atlantic and southern Pacific coasts.Chicks hatch with mandibles of the same length; the distinctive uneven bill only develops as the young birds grow. The bill is knife-thin, allowing it to slice cleanly through water, and is touch-sensitive. The birds fly just above the water’s surface with the lower mandible in the water; the moment it contacts something - usually a small fish, but crustaceans or other invertebrates are also taken - the bill snaps shut. Skimmers also have another adaptation unique among birds: their pupils are vertical slits, as in cats’ eyes. This is thought to help with glare from the water’s surface, allowing the birds to more easily spot potential prey.
Yellow-sided skimmer dragonfly (Libellula flavida), in Portsmouth, Virginia. This one posed calmly for me on a tomato stake in the kitchen garden.
Please click photo for an enlarged view.
This post signifies the happy return of my camera, with a new aperture control unit and a thorough cleaning. It reminds me of the Tin Man after he was lubricated and buffed and polished in the Emerald City repair shop - all shiny and new.
Black Skimmers, with one of the most extraordinary ways of fishing, scoop up fish in the Llanos, Venezuela.
Earthflight uses many different filming techniques to create the experience of flying with birds as they encounter some of the greatest natural events on the planet. Clip from our series Earthflight - Episode 4 ‘South America’, on BBC.
A year after the Gulf oil spill, predictions of mass bird die-offs and disrupted migrations have not come true—but oil is still oozing into some bird habitats, experts say.
The timing of the disaster had especially worried scientists and bird-watchers, since it came amid the annual spring migration of tens of millions of birds through the Gulf of Mexico… In the short term, birds in Louisiana may still get oiled by tar balls that are still washing up on beaches and oozing in marsh grasses.
Melanie Driscoll, Gulf Coast director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society, said she’s “incredibly dismayed” that oil remains in areas where birds nest and feed in the ongoing breeding season. Birds can get oil on their feathers and transfer it to eggs or hatchlings, which are especially vulnerable to the oil’s toxicity…
(Read more: National Geo) (* Black Skimmers pictured in a file photo)