Black skimmers return to nest along Navarre Beach causeway

Devon Ravine
Northwest Florida Daily News

NAVARRE BEACH — Black skimmers have returned again to nest in the sandy areas alongside the Navarre Beach causeway.

The unusually colored migratory birds get their name from the way they feed, skimming the surface of the water with their lower beak to catch fish.

A black skimmers nests along the Navarre Beach Causeway. The birds typically begin nesting in April and will stay to September, teaching their young how to fend for themselves before heading to South Florida and Central and South America.

Skimmers have nested consistently along the causeway for years, typically arriving in April and leaving in early September for winter homes in South Florida and Central and South America.

The birds lay their eggs directly in “scrapes” they make in the sand and then use their bodies to shield the eggs from the sun, heat, and predators.

A black skimmers flies over the Navarre Beach Causeway. The causeway has reduced vehicle speeds while the birds are present.

Caroline Stahala, shorebird program manager with Audubon Florida, said one reason the skimmers return to the causeway is because its remote location makes for fewer predators like raccoons and coyotes.

Since the birds feed on both sides of the causeway and fly over the road frequently, reduced speed signs have been placed along the road to reduce the risk of vehicles striking them.

A black skimmers flies over the Navarre Beach Causeway. The causeway has reduced vehicle speeds while the birds are present.

If you would like to observe the birds, Stahala offered the following tips:

• Cars make great bird blinds. If you are parked on the side of the road right by the colony, the birds will be much calmer if you stay in your car. You will get great photos of natural bird behaviors. 

• If black skimmers or least terns start squawking or moving away from their nests, it means they are uncomfortable with how close you are and you should step back. It will also prevent the birds from flying onto the road.

• Finally, thanks to all who adhere to the speed limit. It prevents collisions with birds flying over the road.