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Skimmers
File:Rynchops diversity.png
Black Skimmer, African Skimmer and Indian Skimmer
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Aequorlitornithes
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Lari
Family: Laridae
Subfamily: Rhynchopinae
Bonaparte, 1838
Genus: Rynchops
Linnaeus, 1758
Species
Synonyms

Rhynchopidae Bonaparte, 1838
Rhynchops

The skimmers forming the subfamily Rynchopinae the genus Rynchops are tern-like birds in the family Laridae. The genus comprises three species found in South Asia, Africa, and the Americas. They were formerly known as the scissorbills,[1]

Description

The three species are the only birds with distinctive uneven bills with the lower mandible longer than the upper. This remarkable adaptation allows them to fish in a unique way, flying low and fast over streams.[2] Their lower mandible skims or slices over the water's surface ready to snap shut any small fish unable to dart clear. The skimmers are sometimes included within the gull family Laridae but separated in other treatments which consider them as a sister group of the terns.[3] The black skimmer has an additional adaptation and is the only species of bird known to have slit-shaped pupils.[4] Their bills fall within their field of binocular vision and enable them to carefully position their bill and capture prey.[5] They are agile in flight and gather in large flocks along rivers and coastal sand banks.[6]

Behaviour

They are tropical and subtropical species which lay 3–6 eggs on sandy beaches. The female incubates the eggs. Because of the species' restricted nesting habitat the three species are vulnerable to disturbance at their nesting sites. One species, the Indian Skimmer, is considered vulnerable by the IUCN due to this as well as destruction and degradation of the lakes and rivers it uses for feeding.[7]

Etymology

As in later editions of the works of Linnaeus, the correct spelling (from the Greek words ῥύγχος and ὤψ, together meaning "beak-face") should be rhynchops and this is often adopted. However, the misspelling rynchops was the one first published by Linnaeus and continues to be more commonly used.[8] Similarly, the gender of the Greek and Roman words is feminine and the genus was originally treated as such (R. nigra) but Rynchops is now usually treated as a masculine noun (R. niger).

Taxonomy

Species

Species of Rhynchops in TiF order

3 species

  Laridae
 sub. Rhynchopinae
Rhynchops
Linnaeus, 1758
Skimmer TiF
Common names
Species (author[s])
Image
Length
Weight
Wingspan
Status
Distribution map
Other links

Black Skimmer

Rhynchops niger
Linnaeus, 1758
Black Skimmer








200x200px
Decrease2 <10,000 mature individuals
Lower risk,
LC
Status iucn3.1 LC

IUCN[9]

African Skimmer

Rhynchops flavirostris
Vielliot, 1816
300px








200x200px
Decrease2 10,000-17,000 mature individuals
Lower risk,
NT
Status iucn3.1 NT

IUCN[10]

Indian Skimmer

Indian Scissors-bill
Rhynchops flavicollis
(Swainson, 1838)
300px








200x200px
Decrease2 4,000-6,7000 mature individuals
Endangered,
VU
Status iucn3.1 VU

IUCN[11]

References

  1. ^ "scissorbill, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014 .
  2. ^ Mariano-Jelicich, R; Favero, M.; Silva, M.P. (February 2003). "Fish Prey of the Black Skimmer Rynchops Niger at Mar Chiquita, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina" (PDF). Marine Ornithology. 31: 199–202. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  3. ^ Fain MG & Peter Houde (2007). "Multilocus perspectives on the monophyly and phylogeny of the order Charadriiformes (Aves)". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 7: 35. PMC 1838420Freely accessible. PMID 17346347. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-35. 
  4. ^ Zusi, RL & D Bridge (1981). "On the Slit Pupil of the Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)" (PDF). Journal of Field Ornithology. 52 (4): 338–340. 
  5. ^ Martin, G.R., Rojas, L.M., and McNeil, R. (2007). "Vision and the foraging technique of Skimmers (Rynchopidae)". Ibis. 149 (4): 750–757. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2007.00706.x. 
  6. ^ Fusco, P.J. "Connecticut Wildlife." Connecticut Department of Environment Protection Bureau of Natural Resources – Wildlife Division. May–June 2006. Accessed 2009-06-29.
  7. ^ "Large dams and barrages are an increasing threat to wetland-dependent birds". BirdLife International. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Amaral, A do (1967). "Comment on the gender of names ending in -ops". Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. 24 (1): 2. 
  9. ^ "Rynchops niger". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Rynchops flavirostris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "Rynchops albicollis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 

External links



Eurasian Spoonbill This article is part of Project Bird Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
Wrybill This article is part of Project Bird Subfamilies, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird subfamily, including made-up families.
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