Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Dare-to-be-Different Bird

Birding Longboat Key, Florida
When my brother and I were growing up, my mom had a poster in our kitchen that read “Dare to be Different!” The entire poster was covered in neat stacks of red apples with one green apple tucked in on the left-hand side. I used to love that poster and it always stuck in my mind, so when I saw this Black Skimmer walking down the beach with his tiny little feet and massively long lower mandible, it's no wonder “Dare to be Different” popped to mind.

Black Skimmers are the only bird in North America with a lower mandible that is longer than its upper mandible.

...from the side his bill looks big and clunky, but head on it's razor thin--perfect for slicing through the water as he skims the surface for fish. When a fish touches the skimmer's bill, he automatically clamps down, capturing his prey.

...that's one different-looking bird.

...I love that look.

I saw this flock of Black Skimmers on March 17, 2010 while walking the beach with Laure Ferlita. I remember it was St. Patty's Day and we were both wearing green. Laure is a blogger friend, artist, and water color teacher from Tampa. We had a great time talking and walking the beach, and we also had a yummy lunch at an outdoor beachfront cafe. If you’re thinking about a water color class, she’s a great teacher, visit her at her blog Painted Thoughts.

32 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

Skimmers look fun.i lie the dare to be different theme, I seem to be .One class i took the objective was to learn and blend colors,and to draw a green apple with about 15 colors toward the end.

Laure Ferlita said...

I think we should all dare to be different and use whatcha got! If you've got a bill just made for skimming—go for it!!

It was fun spending the day with you! We'll have to do it again—soon!!

holdingmoments said...

Wow Kelly, amazing looking bird with that beak. And great captures of it too. The low angle is fantastic, and that second shot had my jaw on the floor.

Elaine said...

Supurb shots, Kelly. He definitely is a different looking bird!

Roy said...

Nice shots, Kelly! Yup, Skimmers are definitely different-looking.

Marilyn said...

What beautiful birds - and fantastic photography!

Gregor said...

Great photos.....
Skimmers are unique indeed I have seen them hunting at night and also on large fresh water lakes near Orlando.This species is fairly stable but could be affected by the Oil..
peace

Robin said...

Kelly, very cool. I had no idea their bills were so thin. Have only seen them in pictures and vidoes, doing their thing. Great capture

Wanda said...

I didn't even know such a bird existed. Beautiful photos, Kelly!

Rubén Rodríguez Olivares said...

fantastic photography!

Roy said...

How an earth do they eat, Kelly.

Gregor said...

Roy,
The lower mandible/bill skims or is below the water line as the bird flies just above water as soon as the bird "feels" a catch the upper bill snaps shut. AWESOME UNIQUE BIRD...The skimmer prefers intercoastal waterways because it is more successful in calm water.

greg from anna maria island

Steve Borichevsky said...

Wow, I've never seen black skimmers so up close and personal!

Kelly said...

...thanks for answering Roy's question, Greg! :-)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, I have never seen Black Skimmers before ---and I will add that they truly are DIFFERENT....

Thanks for sharing...
Hugs,
Betsy

JRandSue said...

Stunning photography,great close up work.
john.

Wren said...

Great photos, Kelley! I like the really good look at the mandibles. I'll have a great field mark if I'm ever fortunate enough to see one when I'm out birding.

Jayne said...

Different is good... after all, what exactly is normal? :c)

Kyna said...

That bird's got an underbite!

Interesting, I've never seen it before :)

Jenny said...

Those Skimmers are amazing birds and you got some fabulous photos of them Kelly.

Shelley said...

What a fun looking bird! His beak reminds me of lobster claws for some reason! Loved the photos!

Elva Paulson said...

Wonderful 'dare to be different' birds!

I had no idea a skimmer's bill was so thin!

Hilke Breder said...

Awesome photos, Kelly, of these strange pre-historic looking birds. I never seen one in person,but your photos tell the story.

Chris said...

Excellent Kelly. I've never seen this bird except on TV nature program... Lucky you, you got very nice shots of it!

ShySongbird said...

What an extremely unusual looking bird, fit for purpose though :)

Great photos here and lovely paintings on the previous post!

Caroline said...

Another bird I've not seen before. I love the head on shot! What a fabulous needle-like bill from that angle!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! Is that a crazy bill. I just love it. I remember the first time I saw one of these birds it actually frightened me. I was young and had never seen a bird with a clunky bill and a massive underbite! It would be so cool to get a shot of this bird head on skimming across the water........

Vickie said...

Awesome photos. These birds are so much fun to watch. You captured that razor then front on view! Isn't that bill amazing.

Roy said...

Thats amazing, thanks Greg and Kelly.

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, these shots are superb. He's beautiful, and that bill is formidable looking!

Kathiesbirds said...

All I can say is WOW! Love this bird and the photos you took of it.

dAwN said...

Great photos! Love watching these birds!