Indian Skimmer 

India is a diverse country, home to a vast array of bird species that are both unique and magnificent. With a variety of habitats, including forests, wetlands, grasslands, and deserts, the country provides a habitat for over 1300 species of birds. India is famous for its endemic bird species like Indian Peafowl, Indian Roller, Indian Pitta, and Indian Paradise Flycatcher, among many others. Some of the rare and endangered species of birds found in India are the Great Indian Bustard, Siberian Crane, and White-Bellied Heron. The country also boasts of several bird sanctuaries and national parks, including the Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, and the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, where one can witness the beauty of these winged creatures in their natural habitats. Whether you are a seasoned birdwatcher or a casual observer, India is a perfect destination to indulge in the beauty of the diverse avian species.

The Indian Skimmer, with its striking black and white plumage, dances along the river’s edge like a delicate ballerina on a grand stage. Its slender wings span out, almost as if it’s about to take flight, but instead, it gracefully hovers just above the water’s surface.

With its signature elongated lower mandible, the skimmer glides across the water, effortlessly scooping up small fish and insects. It’s a master of the river, moving with the current, a true embodiment of the fluidity of nature.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameIndian Skimmer
2Scientific nameRynchops albicollis
3ColourBlack upperparts, white underparts, black and white wings
4Average length40-45 cm
5Average height30-35 cm
6Type of birdWaterbird
7Found in India in stateseastern and southern coasts of India
8HabitatRivers, lakes, and estuaries with sandbanks and islands


The Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) is a unique bird species found in parts of South Asia, including India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The Indian Skimmer has a distinct, spoon-shaped bill that is longer than its head.

It has long, pointed wings that are black on the upper surface and white on the lower surface. Its body is slender and streamlined, with a white underbelly and a black collar around its neck. It has short legs and webbed feet that are red in color.

The Indian Skimmer has predominantly black and white feathers. The upper parts of its body are black, while the lower parts are white. Its bill is yellow with a black tip.

The Indian Skimmer stands at a height of around 40-50 cm (16-20 inches). The Indian Skimmer has a wingspan of approximately 110-120 cm (43-47 inches). Its body length is around 38-41 cm (15-16 inches).

Habitat and Food

Indian Skimmers are typically found near large rivers, estuaries, and mangrove swamps. They prefer sandy riverbanks and sandbars, and can also be found in shallow freshwater lakes and reservoirs. They are found mainly in northern and eastern India, but can also be seen in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Indian Skimmers are carnivores, and their diet primarily consists of fish. They hunt for their prey by flying low over the water surface, and skimming their lower mandible through the water. This allows them to detect the movements of fish, which they then catch in their beak. Indian Skimmers are also known to occasionally feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and insects.

Nesting and Nurturing

The Indian Skimmer are a unique bird species found in parts of South Asia, with distinctive nesting habits and interesting characteristics. 

They typically nest in colonies, often on sandbars or islands in rivers or lakes. They create shallow scrapes in the sand, usually close to the water’s edge, where they lay their eggs. The birds often build their nests on open sandbars, which offer little protection from predators.

Indian Skimmers typically lay between 2-3 eggs in a single clutch. The number of eggs may vary depending on the availability of food and the breeding season.

The eggs of Indian Skimmers are light gray to greenish-brown in color, with dark brown spots and blotches. They are medium-sized, with an average length of about 56mm and width of about 36mm.

The eggs are incubated for about 21-24 days by both parents. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs, with one bird sitting on the nest while the other searches for food.

Once the eggs hatch, the parents continue to take turns caring for the young. The chicks are born with a soft, downy coat and are fed a diet of small fish and insects. They are able to fly and leave the nest after about 4-5 weeks, although they may stay with the parents for several more weeks to learn how to fish and navigate their environment. The Indian Skimmers are known for their protective behavior towards their young and will defend their chicks aggressively against any potential predators.

IUCN Status

The Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) has been classified as endangered due to a significant decline in its population over the past few decades. The species is threatened by habitat destruction, disturbance, and degradation, as well as egg and chick predation by feral dogs and other predators. Additionally, pollution and changes in river flow patterns caused by dam construction and other water management practices have also contributed to the decline of this species. Conservation measures, such as habitat restoration, protection of breeding colonies, and enforcement of laws against disturbance and persecution of the species, are critical for the survival of the Indian Skimmer.

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