Watching baby Black Skimmers learn how to eat is one of the best parts of visiting a skimmer colony. The parents work hard to catch small fish suitable for their small chicks. Even so, the fish are almost as big as the chicks. It can take a while for the chick to get the meal down…
The parents tend to hover as the chick takes the fish and maneuvers it into his mouth.
It’s important to swallow the first head-first to keep the fish from choking the bird. The chick often throws his head back as he makes a valiant effort to swallow.
Sometimes the effort is too much and the chick collapses exhausted on the beach. He sits there panting for a few seconds, with the fish still sticking out of his beak.
Then he throws his head back to try again. It must be uncomfortable to sit there with a fish-tail sticking out of your mouth.
The chick does a little wiggle-dance as he forces the fish down. It’s funny how the once-attentive parents have usually moved on by this point, leaving the chick to struggle by himself.
It’s so hard to swallow! At times the chick topples to the ground. He lies there panting, then tries again…and again…until he eventually gets it down.
It’s hard to believe that in a few short days, the chick will be twice as big and capable of swallowing much bigger fish in just a second or two. :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Black Skimmer Colonies?
Check out my Black Skimmer Colonies page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!