Indian Skimmer

Rynchops albicollis - Rynchopidae - Charadriiformes. | Kakinada, India
Canon EOS 7D, , ISO 400, Shutter speed 1/800 Sec, Aperture f/5.6
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Indian Skimmer photographed at Kakinada, India
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The Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) is a species of bird that belongs to the family Laridae. It is a unique waterbird that is primarily found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Appearance and Characteristics

The Indian Skimmer is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 40-50 cm (16-20 inches) in length with a wingspan of 115-125 cm (45-49 inches). It has a distinct black and white plumage with a white head and neck and a black back and wings. The beak is long and thin, with a lower mandible that is longer than the upper mandible. The eyes are dark, and the legs and feet are a bright orange-red color.

Habitat and Distribution

The Indian Skimmer is primarily found in freshwater wetlands, including rivers, lakes, and estuaries. It is known to breed along the banks of large rivers, particularly the Ganges and Brahmaputra in India. The species is distributed across the Indian subcontinent, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, as well as Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Behavior and Diet

The Indian Skimmer is a unique bird that has adapted to catching fish by skimming the surface of the water with its lower mandible. It flies low over the water, with its beak open and the lower mandible cutting through the water to catch fish. It is primarily a nocturnal hunter and is active during the early morning and late evening.

The Indian Skimmer is a colonial breeder, with large flocks nesting along sandbars and islands in rivers. The female lays two to four eggs, which are incubated by both parents. The chicks hatch after about 20-25 days and fledge after 30-35 days.

Conservation Status

The Indian Skimmer is listed as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List, with a decreasing population trend. The species is threatened by habitat loss due to river damming and sand mining, as well as human disturbance and hunting. The Indian government has taken steps to protect the species, including declaring some breeding sites as protected areas and banning the hunting of the bird.