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Black Oystercatcher - Haematopus bachmani

Black Oystercatcher

Characteristics
Range
Habitat
Diet
Life Cycle
Behavior

 Classification

 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Charadriiformes 
 Family:Haematopodidae 
 Genus:  Haematopus

 

Black Oystercatcher
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least Concern Least Concern
    Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Andrew Spencer cc logo
  Characteristics
Black OystercatcherThe black oyster catcher is about 15-19 inches in length. It has a stocky black body, yellow eyes surrounded by a red ring, a long bright red-orange bill and pink legs. Males and females look alike.

  Range

rangeThe black oystercatcher can be found from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska southward along the Pacific Coast to Baja California.

 


 

  Habitat
The black oystercatcher lives on rocky coasts.
  Diet
Black OystercatcherThe black oystercatcher eats a variety of invertebrate marine life including mussels, whelks and limpets. Despite its name, it rarely eats oysters! It especially likes to eat creatures that cling to the rocks below the high-tide line. It usually forages at low tide and rests at high tide. It uses its long, sharp bill to pry bivalves like limpets and mussels off the rocks and then to open them. They also look for open mussels and disable them by stabbing the adductor muscle that holds the shell together. This keeps the shell open. The oyster catcher then pulls out the contents with the tip of its sharp bill and swallows its catch.
  Life Cycle

Black OystercatcherThe female black oyster catcher lays two to three eggs among pebbles in a shallow rocky depression or in a hollow on the beach above the high tide line. The nest is built by both the male and the female. They will create a scrape or depression in the ground and then pick up and toss shells and bits of rocks and pebbles into the depression with a backwards or sideways flip of their heads. They use the same nest year-after-year. Both the male and the female take turns incubating the eggs.

Black OystercatcherThe eggs incubate for 24-29 days and the chicks fledge in about 35 days. The chicks remain close to the nest at first. One of the parents will stay with them while the other parent forages for food to bring back to the nest. Eventually, the chicks will go with their parents to feeding areas. The chicks fledge at about five weeks and will forage on their own, but they will still occasionally be fed by their parents. The female has one brood a year.
 

  Behavior

Black OystercatcherBlack oystercatchers are non-migratory. They may move a little in the spring and fall, but they usually remain close to their nesting area.





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