Western, Central and Eastern Africa: Senegal - Ethiopia south through W and S Kenya to Tropic of Capricorn.
Habitat and Ecology
Rivers at low water, open marshes, less common at coast (Lack 2010).
Expanses of calm water for feeding (BirdLife International 2011); breeding along broad rivers on large, dry sandbars that are largely free from vegetation (sometimes on sandy lake shores, and very occasionally on sandy sea shores).
Movements and dispersal
It feeds on fish, foraging exclusively in the fashion characteristic of the family Rynchopidae, namely by skimming the water in flight with its mouth open and lower mandible submerged.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Status in Egypt
Resident breeder? and regular passage visitor.
No actions targeted at this species are known. Conservation Actions Proposed
Clarify population status and trends by monitoring breeding populations annually and assessing breeding success. Conduct public awareness campaign regarding its conservation needs, both through ecotourism to areas such as the Okavango delta, and through local grassroots environmental education (Tyler and Stone 2000).
They have very long wings. The back, hindneck, and crown are black. The forehead and rest of the body is white, with a bright, long, orange beak that ends with a yellow tip (black tip in immatures). Their short forked tail is white, and their legs are bright red. The average size is about 38 cm (15 in) long. Their voice is a sharp "kip-kip". Their bill structure is unique. The lower mandible is much longer than the upper mandible, and flattened sideways like scissor blades.
The African skimmer is found from Senegal to northern Congo River and southern Nile Valley, southern Tanzania to the Zambezi Valley, and then to KwaZulu-Natal Province (South Africa) and Angola. They live at large tropical rivers with sandbanks, lake shores, and coastal lagoons. The African skimmer is generally uncommon and the total populations is estimated at 15,000-25,000 individuals.
African skimmers fly in lines over calm waters, and dip their lower mandibles in the water to feed. When the mandible touches a fish, the skimmer snaps its mouth shut. They feed mostly at dawn and dusk.
Pairs nest in loose colonies on large sandbanks. The colonies typically consist of less than 50 pairs and each pair lays 2–3 (rarely 4) eggs in a scrape in the sand.
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