Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  American Oystercatcher
 
 

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  Order Charadriiformes - Plovers, Sandpipers, Gulls, Terns, Auks
   Family Haematopodidae - Oystercatchers

  Charadriiforms are a diverse group of shore and aquatic or wading or terrestrial birds. They include the sandgrouse, shore birds, gulls and terns, and alcids. The majority breed in the Northern Hemisphere.
   The Tree of Life includes shorebirds with the Ciconiiformes.
Oystercatchers are found worldwide. They have a long, compressed, chisel-like bill that is used to open mussel or oyster shells.
     
     
  American Oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus
 
  Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Common, breeds / Common, former breeder?
LAGOON, ESTUARIES, DUNES
MORE PICTURES
 
   The American Oystercatcher has a dark back, black head and red bill. The skin around the eye is also red. Their legs are light and they show a conspicuous white stripe in the wing when flying. These are large, stately birds of our beach...
American Oystercatcher
     
American Oystercatcher. Pitt St., Mt. Pleasant
   
  RANGE: American Oystercatchers breed from New England (their extension into the north-east is recent), south along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and both Mexican coasts, the West Indies and coastal South America (to Argentina).
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Their nest is on open sand or gravel amid shells or other detritus, well above high tide line. It is usually unlined. Females lay 3 (1-4 eggs) which both sexes incubate for 24-29 days. Development is semiprecocial. The downy young leave the nest soon after hatching. Both parents feed the young for at least two months after hatching. They are able to fly after 35 days or so. They depend on adults for food and require long periods to learn to open mollusks (young may stay with their parents through the first winter).
  Egg losses to predators are high and adults re-nest several times. Chick survival, however, is usually high. Oystercatchers first breed when the are 3-4 years old.
  DIET: Shellfish (mussels, clams, oysters), marine worms, crabs, limpets, sea urchins, jellyfish, and other edibles they find between the tide lines. Oystercatchers may eat bivalves by inserting their bill between the valves of a feeding clam and cutting the adductor muscles or they may simply break the shell by bashing it with their thick bill. Individuals may learn one or the other of these feeding methods and tend to stay with it throughout their life. They probably learn from their parents.
  VOICE: Oystercatchers utter a loud "wheep," rising in tone. It often calls your attention to their presence.
  NOTES
   Checklists -
    
  Seabrook (has bred). Kiawah - common year-round (breeds). Edisto - resident.
      Coastal - fairly common permanent resident. Hilton Head - common permanent resident.
         Cape Romain
- common/common (breeds)/abundant/abundant. Huntington Beach - uncommon, year-round.
      ACE - accidental.
   CBC: ACE 2, 0, 1, 4, 6, 6, 12, 69; Charleston 249, 806, 1002, 751, 45, 58, 64, 54;
            St, Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 3, 3; Hilton Head 240, 159, 357, 161, 295, 209, 291, 146; Sun City/Okatie 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 14, 2;
            McClellanville 70, 368, 206, 116, nc, 41, 432, 828; Winyah Bay x, x, 111, 71, 27, 90, 28, 20; Litchfield/Pawley's 27, 14, 29, 26, 38, 16, 22, 16.
   P&G: Common resident on coast, locally abundant in winter. Maximum 8,121, Awendaw/Cape Romain, 27 Decemb3er 1970. Egg dates:
2 April - 14 June.
   Avendex: 8 published records.
   Potter: Fairly common permanent resident. Cape Romaine has more birds of this species in winter than any other location along the coast.
  ●  American Oystercatchers have nested on Seabrook in the low dunes of North Beach and along the river. Recent changes in the dune area and human and canine disturbance appear to have reduced their use of this area. They are seen in relatively small numbers (often paired) at all seasons on our beaches, near the lagoon, along the river, and at the inlet. They probably breed on Deveaux Bank.
   Larger groups may congregate during migration. Listen for their loud whistle. They are very conspicuous birds of the beach.
       
    Banner - American Oystercatcher.
       
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KEY:    ■ Seabrook list     □ Kiawah list