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Black Oystercatcher

Haematopus bachmani

Order:
Charadriiformes
Family:
Haematopodidae
Sections
  • Authors: Andres, Brad A. and Gary A. Falxa
  • Published: Jan 1, 1995
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Figure 1. Distribution of the Black Oystercatcher.

Only individuals in northern populations of this species are known to migrate. Becomes more localized throughout range during winter.

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Black Oystercatcher in flight, Pt. Pinos, Monterey, California, 18 February 2007.

, Feb 18, 2007; photographer Brian L. Sullivan

© Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Left to themselves, the birds are no Quakers, and the antics of courtship are both noisy and amusing.” (Dawson in Bent 1929 )

The Black Oystercatcher is a conspicuous member of rocky intertidal communities along the west coast of North America. Completely dependent on marine shorelines for its food and nesting, this is a monogamous, long-lived bird. Breeding pairs establish well-defined, composite feeding and nesting territories and generally occupy the same territory year after year, often along low-sloping gravel or rocky shorelines where intertidal prey are abundant. Pairs nest just above the high-tide line and use the intertidal zone to feed themselves and provision their chicks. Diets of adults and chicks consist mainly of molluscs; principally mussels and limpets. Parental feeding of offspring extends well after chicks develop independent flight.

Pairs often abandon their territories in winter and form flocks; in areas of high mussel density, these flocks often number in the hundreds. Human-induced disturbances on islands where Black Oystercatchers nest have eliminated local populations.

Genus Haematopus is Greek for blood eye (red in Old World forms). Specific scientific name is by John J. Audubon for his friend, the Reverand John Bachman.

Recommended Citation

Andres, Brad A. and Gary A. Falxa. (1995). Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/blkoys

DOI: 10.2173/bna.155