Rynchops niger - Linnaeus, 1758
Black Skimmer
Other Common Names: Talha-Mar-Preto
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Rynchops niger Linnaeus, 1758 (TSN 554447)
French Common Names: Bec-en-ciseaux noir
Spanish Common Names: Rayador Americano
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105078
Element Code: ABNNM14010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 11533

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Charadriiformes Laridae Rynchops
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Rynchops niger
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 27Nov1996
Global Status Last Changed: 27Nov1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Range is large, and species is relatively common in some areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (19Mar1997)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S2B,S4N), California (S2), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (S1B), Florida (S3), Georgia (S1), Louisiana (S3), Maryland (S1B), Massachusetts (S1B,S1N), Mississippi (S3B,S3N), New Jersey (S1B,S1N), New York (S2), North Carolina (S2B,S3N), Rhode Island (S1N), South Carolina (S2), Texas (S4B), Virginia (S2B,S1N)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDS: southern California (Salton Sea, around San Diego), along coast from Sonora to Nayarit, on Pacific coast of South America in Ecuador; locally from Massachusetts (Plymouth), New York (Long Island), and New Jersey south to southern Florida, along Gulf Coast from western Florida to Tabasco, and along Atlantic coast of South America and along some of larger rivers from Colombia to northern Argentina. Most of the U.S. breeding population occurs along Gulf Coast (mainly Louisiana and Texas). NORTHERN WINTER: southern U.S. to southern South America.

Population Size Comments: In the late 1970s-early 1980s, there were about 46,000 breeders along the U.S. Gulf Coast, 14,000 along the U.S. Atlantic coast, 4500 along the Florida coast, and less than 100 in southern California (Spendelow and Patton 1988).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Human predation on eggs poses a threat to many accessible colonies in Amazon (Hilty and Brown 1986). In the eastern U.S., major threats include flooding of nests, predation, and human disturbance (Buckley and Buckley 1984). Human disturbance reduces breeding success even in undisturbed areas (increases density of breeding birds there).

Short-term Trend Comments: As of the early 1980s, eastern U.S. population was stable or perhaps increasing in some areas (Buckley and Buckley 1984). Population trends in the southeastern U.S. are unknown (Clapp and Buckley 1984).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: southern California (Salton Sea, around San Diego), along coast from Sonora to Nayarit, on Pacific coast of South America in Ecuador; locally from Massachusetts (Plymouth), New York (Long Island), and New Jersey south to southern Florida, along Gulf Coast from western Florida to Tabasco, and along Atlantic coast of South America and along some of larger rivers from Colombia to northern Argentina. Most of the U.S. breeding population occurs along Gulf Coast (mainly Louisiana and Texas). NORTHERN WINTER: southern U.S. to southern South America.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, LA, MA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, NY, RI, SC, TX, VA

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Mobile (01097)
CA Alameda (06001), Imperial (06025), Orange (06059), Riverside (06065), Santa Clara (06085)
CT Fairfield (09001)*
DE Sussex (10005)
FL Bay (12005), Brevard (12009), Charlotte (12015), Citrus (12017), Collier (12021), Duval (12031), Escambia (12033), Franklin (12037), Gulf (12045), Hillsborough (12057), Indian River (12061), Lee (12071), Levy (12075), Manatee (12081), Martin (12085), Miami-Dade (12086), Monroe (12087), Nassau (12089), Okaloosa (12091), Pinellas (12103), Santa Rosa (12113), Sarasota (12115), St. Johns (12109), St. Lucie (12111), Taylor (12123), Volusia (12127), Walton (12131)
GA Chatham (13051), Glynn (13127), Mcintosh (13191)
MA Barnstable (25001)
MD Dorchester (24019)*, Somerset (24039)*, Worcester (24047)
MS Hancock (28045), Harrison (28047), Jackson (28059)
NC Brunswick (37019), Carteret (37031), Dare (37055), Hyde (37095), New Hanover (37129), Onslow (37133), Pender (37141)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Cape May (34009), Monmouth (34025), Ocean (34029)
NY Nassau (36059), Queens (36081), Suffolk (36103)
VA Accomack (51001), Hampton (City) (51650), Northampton (51131)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Cape Cod (01090002)+, Saugatuck (01100006)+*
02 Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+, Northern Long Island (02030201)+, Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Long Island Sound (02030203)+*, Delaware Bay (02040204)+, Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Eastern Lower Delmarva (02040304)+, Upper Chesapeake Bay (02060001)+*, Choptank (02060005)+*, Lower Chesapeake Bay (02080101)+*, Lynnhaven-Poquoson (02080108)+, Eastern Lower Delmarva (02080110)+*, Pokomoke-Western Lower Delmarva (02080111)+, Hampton Roads (02080208)+
03 Albemarle (03010205)+, Pamlico Sound (03020105)+, Lower Neuse (03020204)+, White Oak River (03020301)+, New River (03020302)+, Lower Cape Fear (03030005)+, Coastal Carolina (03040208)+*, Lower Savannah (03060109)+*, Ogeechee Coastal (03060204)+, Altamaha (03070106)+, Cumberland-St. Simons (03070203)+, Nassau (03070205)+, Lower St. Johns (03080103)+, Daytona - St. Augustine (03080201)+, Cape Canaveral (03080202)+, Vero Beach (03080203)+, Florida Bay-Florida Keys (03090203)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Charlotte Harbor (03100103)+, Sarasota Bay (03100201)+, Little Manatee (03100203)+, Tampa Bay (03100206)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+, Withlacoochee (03100208)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, Econfina-Steinhatchee (03110102)+, New (03130013)+, Apalachicola Bay (03130014)+, St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays (03140101)+, Choctawhatchee Bay (03140102)+, Pensacola Bay (03140105)+, Perdido Bay (03140107)+, Mobile Bay (03160205)+, Pascagoula (03170006)+, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+
18 San Francisco Bay (18050004)+, Seal Beach (18070201)+, Salton Sea (18100204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A Bird
General Description: A slim waterbird with a red, black-tipped bill and red legs; lower mandible is much longer than the upper; crown, back, and most of upperside of wings are black in adults, mottled dingy brown in juveniles; forehead, cheeks, and underparts are white, except the mostly dark primaries and secondaries; browner in winter, with a white collar; average length 46 cm, wingspan 112 cm (NGS 1983).
Diagnostic Characteristics: No other North American bird normally has the lower mandible longer than the upper.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size usually is 4-5. Incubation is by both sexes. Young are tended by both parents. Colony size ranges up to about 1000 along the mid-Atlantic coast, up to 3000-5000 in Louisiana (Spendelow and Patton 1988).
Ecology Comments: Roosts in flocks of up to 100s or 1000s. Forages up to 5.2-8 kilometers from colony (summarized in Gochfeld and Burger 1994).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Arrives on U.S. nesting grounds in April-May (Terres 1980). Northern birds winter from southern U.S. south to Argentina and Chile; southern birds winter north in small numbers to Costa Rica; migrants from North America along Costa Rican coast mid-September to late October and early April-late May, migrants from South America May-October (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, Herbaceous wetland, Lagoon, River mouth/tidal river, Tidal flat/shore
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, Low gradient
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Sand/dune
Habitat Comments: Primarily coastal waters, including bays, estuaries, lagoons and mudflats in migration and winter (AOU 1983); also quiet waters of rivers and lakes (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Rest on mudflats, sandbars, beaches.

Nests primarily near coasts on sandy beaches, shell banks, coastal and estuary islands, on wrack and drift of salt marshes (especially where traditional beach nesting areas have been lost or where Herring gulls have become abundant), along tropical rivers, salt pond levees (southern California), and locally, on gravelly rooftops; also on dredged material sites. Nests usually in association with or near terns. See Spendelow and Patton (1988) for further details.

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly small fishes, also crustaceans; skims food from surface of water while flying with lower mandible in water. (Terres 1980).
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: May forage anytime but mostly at dawn, dusk, or at night (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 46 centimeters
Weight: 255 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Eggs are harvested by humans in some areas.
Management Summary
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Monitoring Requirements: To check reproduction, visit colony once late in incubation and count young in loafing areas using telescope.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Gulls and Terns

Use Class: Adult foraging area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Applies to both adults and juveniles. Evidence of one or more individuals seeking food in suitable habitat. Evidence of prey capture is not a prerequisite, as importance of a given location for foraging may vary temporally with shifting prey.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Scientific basis for assigning foraging separation distances is weak because terns are widespread across the Massachusetts coast and highly mobile. Most gaps in foraging observations likely reflect lack of survey effort.
Date: 10Jan2017
Author: Mostello, C. S.

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Occurrences include nesting areas and associated nesting-season foraging areas (regardless of how far apart they are), but separation distance pertains to nesting areas (breeding colonies). Thus different breeding occurrences may overlap if birds from different nesting areas forage in the same area. Separation distance is not intended to delineate demographically independent populations or metapopulations (such units would be quite large). Instead, separation distance is a compromise between the high mobility of these birds (see following) and the need for occurrences that are of practical size for conservation/management use.

California Gulls foraged an average of 17.4 kilometers from colony (Baird 1976); maximum foraging distances ranged from 32 to 61 kilometers (Rothweiler 1960, Baird 1976). Ring-billed Gulls foraged an average of 11 km from colony (Baird 1977). Least Terns foraged up to 3-12 kilometers from nests (summarized in Thompson et al. 1997). Forster's Terns has a reported feeding radius of 3.2 kilometers (Van Rossem 1932). Black Terns foraged up to 10 kilometers from nests, over continuous suitable but unoccupied habitat (M. A. Stern, pers. comm. 1998). Caspian terns in a colony at the mouth of the Columbia River: 90% of adults foraged within 21 kilometers (Collis et al. 1999).

Date: 21Jul2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 50 birds in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set such that occurrences are of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences are defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 26Apr2004

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Concentration Area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set such that occurrences are of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences are defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 16Apr2002
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Includes all inland-nesting gulls and terns, in the genera LARUS, STERNA, and CHLIDONIAS.

Use Class: Staging
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of flocks resting, roosting, and/or feeding young at a given location prior to breeding or after breeding has been completed. Staging may occur near the breeding site, preceding or following major migratory movements such as oceanic crossings, or it may occur after individuals have departed on migration, but before they have arrived at their final destination (a "stopover"). Staging may occur at sites also used for breeding, but often does not. Staging habitat may be ephemeral. For Common/Roseate Terns in Massachusetts, a minimum of 100 individuals in appropriate habitat is used.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: In Massachusetts, staging areas are separated somewhat arbitrarily, often by jurisdictional or property boundaries, as are nesting areas for coastal birds.
Date: 10Jan2017
Author: Mostello, C. S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 22Apr1987
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01May1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G., REVISIONS BY S. CANNINGS

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
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  • See SERO listing

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  • Van Rossem, A. J. 1933. Terns as destroyers of birds' eggs. Condor 35:49-51.

  • Vogt, W. 1934. Black skimmer (Rynchops nigra) breeding in New York. Auk 51:521.

  • Zook, J. L. 2002. Distribution maps of the birds of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Unpublished.

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