Shorebirds are a common sight in Floridian nature. Black skimmers “skim” the surface of the water with black-tipped bright red bills. The lower half of the bill is longer than the upper, allowing it to cut through the water and dip down to grab small fish encountered near the surface. Adult plumage is black above, white below and this striking combination, coupled with the brightly colored bill, makes it easy to spot the birds as they hunt over the water or loaf on the beach with other seabirds and shorebirds. Black skimmers, and least, royal and sandwich terns nest in colonies in the open sand on beaches, sandbars, and dredge material islands. Their nests are built on the ground and often consist of simple scrapes in the sand. (Due to habitat loss, a very small percentage of black skimmers also nest on gravel roofs!) Black skimmers rely on camouflage or group mobbing to protect their nests. Breeding colonies of black skimmers can be found along Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Watch for them in the early evening when they actively feed, and scan flocks of loafing birds for this uncommon coastal resident.
Monday, February 8, 2016
Seals live in the oceans of both hemispheres and are mostly confined to polar, sub-polar, and temperate climates, with the exception of the more tropical monk seals. True seals inhabit all oceans, except the Indian Ocean. Some species live in inland lakes in Siberia, Russia, and Finland. Seals forage, search for food, at sea, but haul out (get out of the water) to land to breed, molt, or shed fur, and rest. Seals eat mostly fish, but also feed on krill, squid, octopuses, and other seals. True seals congregate on land or ice to breed and molt. The males and females of some species migrate, travel, separately from breeding to foraging areas, some traveling as far south as Florida. Others species do not migrate.
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