What is an Indian Skimmer?

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What is an Indian Skimmer? Blog Image


The endangered Indian Skimmer was recently spotted along the Ghaghra River at Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.

About Indian Skimmer

  • It is an odd bird which belongs to the family of skimmers, Rynchopidae.
  • Scientific Name: Rynchops albicollis
  • It gets its name from the way it feeds, flying low over the water surface and ‘skimming’ for fish. 
  • Other names: Indian scissors-bill
  • Habitat: It occurs primarily on larger, sandy, lowland riversaround lakes and adjacent marshes and, in the non-breeding season, in estuaries and coasts.
  • Distribution:
    • These skimmer species were distributed in north Indian rivers, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
    • Now, much of the population is confined to north Indian River systems and Pakistan. 
    • About 20% of the total population nest along river Chambal.
  • Features:
    • It measures 40 to 43 cm in length and has a wingspan of 110 cm.
    • The overall plumage is white on the underside and black on the upper side.
    • The forehead and the collar are white, and the crown is black.
    • The tail is short and forked. The central tail feathers are black
    • The bill is long and thick. It is colored bright orange with a yellow tip
    • Diet: Small fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects and insect larvae.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Endangered


Key Facts about Dudhwa Tiger Reserve:

  • Location: It is located on the Indo-Nepal border in the district of Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh.
  • It includes the Dudhwa National Park and two nearby Sanctuaries, viz. Kishanpur and Katerniaghat, besides forest areas of North Kheri, South Kheri and Shahjahanpur forest divisions in its buffer.
  • Rivers: The Sharda River flows by the Kishanpur WL Sanctuary, the Geruwa River flows through the Katerniaghat WL Sanctuary, and the Suheli and Mohana streams flow in the Dudhwa National Park, all of which are tributaries of the mighty Ghagra River.
  • Vegetation: The vegetation is of the North Indian Moist Deciduous type, containing some of the finest examples of Sal forests (Shorea robusta) in India.
  • Flora: The flora is predominantly Sal forest along with its associate tree species like Terminalia alata (Asna), Lagerstroemia parviflora (Asidha), Adina cordifolia (Haldu), Mitragyna parviflora (Faldu), Gmelina arborea (Gahmhar), Holoptelea intgrifolia (Kanju) etc.
  • Fauna:
    • The major mammals include Tiger, Fishing cat, Monkey, Langur, Mongoose, Small Indian Mongoose, small Indian civet, Jackal etc.
    • Birds include a wide variety of species, which include migratory and resident ones like Dabchick, spotbilled pelican, Large cornorant, Little cormorant, Grey Heron, White stork, Black storck, White Ibis etc.
    • Reptiles include Mugger, Ghariyal, Python, Sandboa, Banded krait, Russel’s viper, Rat snake etc.


Q1) What is an estuary?

An estuary is an area where a freshwater river or stream meets the ocean. When freshwater and seawater combine, the water becomes brackish, or slightly salty.Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Many animals rely on estuaries for food, places to breed, and migration stopover.

Source: Endangered Indian Skimmer spotted at UP's Dudhwa tiger reserve