Rich and I spent a pleasant evening at a Black Skimmer colony in mid-June. I tried to time the visit with the hatching of the babies, but I was off by about a week. The colony was full of blond fuzzballs running around, begging for fish. I sprawled on the sand and enjoyed every minute with them! :)
The baby above was one of the youngest that I saw at the colony that evening. He was so cute! All evening I watched for little guys of this size. Most of the other chicks were a few days older. Older chicks are more active, but a little less cute….
This slightly older chick was happy to accept a needlefish from Dad. Dad stood watching for a few seconds as the baby maneuvered the fish into his mouth. It didn’t take long for the fish to disappear in a single gulp!
Nearby, another adult handed off a needlefish. But the second baby wasn’t so adept at swallowing. The baby kept dropping the fish, and the adult kept picking it back up and handing it back the baby. At times it looked like they were playing tug-of-war. The baby finally won.
Feeding time is a big part of living in a skimmer colony. Babies who are hungry will bite at Mom’s beak to beg for food. The parents are very patient.
The adults sometimes forget their target audience. They bring in adult-size fish and wonder why the babies won’t eat them. The perplexed look on their faces is priceless.
This juvenile accepted a big fish and then struggled to swallow it. He paraded it right in front of my lens!
This particular nest was my favorite one of the evening. There were four chicks that kept Mom very busy. The biggest chick bulled the younger ones, especially the baby. Mom patiently sat on them when they got too rowdy.
As the sun crept low on the horizon, the colony was bathed in golden light. The babies were most active as the breeze picked up and the parents brought in the last meals of the evening. This mom sat quietly with her two chicks. It was a great end to a great evening!