New York Natural Heritage Program
Black Skimmer
Rynchops niger Linnaeus, 1758
Birds

Habitat [-]
Black Skimmers nest on open sandy beaches, barrier island beaches, dredge spoil islands, typically sharing these areas with terns, gulls, and plovers. They will also nest on open areas of salt marsh islands if suitable beach habitat is unavailable (Bent 1921; Erwin 1977; Gochfeld and Burger 1994). Foraging habitat, which is usually a considerable distance away from nesting areas, includes shallow and tidal waters of bays, inlets, marshes, estuaries, and salt marsh pools (Arthur 1921; Tompkins 1951).

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • High salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide up to the limit of spring tides. It is periodically flooded by spring tides and flood tides. High salt marshes typically consist of a mosaic of patches that are mostly dominated by a single graminoid species.
  • Low salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide down to mean sea level or to about 2 m (6 ft) below mean high tide. It is regularly flooded by semidiurnal tides. The mean tidal range of low salt marshes on Long Island is about 80 cm, and they often form in basins with a depth of 1.6 m or greater.
  • Marine dredge spoil shore
    The wetland community of a constructed, intertidal or subtidal, marine shore in which the substrate is composed of dredge spoils. This community has minimal vegetative cover and relatively low species diversity. Dredge spoil shores provide foraging habitat for terns, gulls, and several shorebirds.
  • Maritime beach
    A community with extremely sparse vegetation that occurs on unstable sand, gravel, or cobble ocean shores above mean high tide, where the shore is modified by storm waves and wind erosion.

Associated Species [-]
  • Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
  • Least Tern (Sterna antillarum)
  • Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)
  • Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)
  • Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)