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Birds on the Beach

Name That Bird!

Yesterday Nancy and I took a nice, long walk on the beach. That is nothing unusual. We usually take a walk on the beach in the afternoon, but no matter how often we do it, there is always something new or special to see. On this particular walk, we spotted some Black Skimmers. They are truly amazing birds, with a very specialized way of catching fish.

Black Skimmer feeding

Instead of diving for fish, or spearing them like an egret, the Black Skimmer opens it mouth very wide and trails its bottom beak in the water. If it hits a fish, the beak snaps shut, and the bird has its meal. They are beautiful birds, and they are very graceful as they skim for fish. It was very unusual to see them on the beach. We often see them in the salt marshes at the Merritt Island Refuge, but very rarely on our beach. Rare enough that a police car patrolling the beach stopped us to ask what they were.

Snowy Egret looking for fish

Unlike the Skimmer, the Snowy Egret uses its long, sharp beak to spear fish in the shallow water. This one was intent on hunting, and paid very little attention to us as we walked past.

Snowy Egret fishing

It is more common to see them inland, along rivers and ponds, but I particularly enjoy watching them in the surf, as they dance in and out of the waves looking for fish. This one was very skilled, and caught a fish on almost every try.