African Skimmer

African Skimmer


This is another of Botswana’s banner species.  It is a distinctive bird with a uniquely shaped yellow-tipped red bill, with the lower mandible 20-30mm longer than the upper. The colour of the upper parts of the bird is dark, blackish brown and the forehead and underparts are white.


The call is a loud sharp kik-kik-kik.

Behaviour and habitat

The Skimmer is very localised, being found in the Okavango Delta and along the Chobe River on loarge river systems and lakes, with unvegetated sandbars and islands. It occurs in pairs or small flocks.

As the name implies, the African Skimmer flies just above water level, with its lower mandible just breaking the surface. Its food is small fish, mostly 2-5cm long.

The birds are monogamous and colonial and the nest is a deep unlined scrape on a sandbar.