Black Oystercatcher is a distinctive bird of rocky coasts in western North
America. With their brilliantly orangish-red bill contrasting with
their black plumage and pale legs, they are an unmistakeable sight as they
forage along shorelines for shellfish and other prey. Pairs of Black
Oystercatchers typically mate for life, may live over 15 years, and rarely
wander far from their home range. Because of these characteristics,
birders often are able to observe the same mated pair for several years at a
Habitat: At all seasons, Black Oystercatchers are
found along rocky shorelines, strongly preferring offshore rocky islands and
the nearby mainland shoreline. During winter months, they can also
sometimes be found on mudflats or in other areas close to rocky shorelines.
Diet: Mostly feeds on shellfish such as limpets or
mussels, but will also feed on a variety of other marine life, such as
crabs, sea urchins, marine worms, and large insect larvae.
Behavior: Forages by walking along the rocky
shoreline in search of shellfish. Most foraging is done at low tide,
when mussel beds or other food sources are exposed.
Nesting: The Black Oystercatcher is thought to
mate for life, with breeding pairs staying in the same general vicinity for
most of their lives. The nest is on high ground, well above high-tide
line, most often on an offshore island. Both the male and female will
help to build the nest, which consists of a slight scrape on the ground,
usually lined with a few shells or small rocks. Both parents incubate
the eggs and help to raise the young..
Song: Black Oystercatchers make a variety of
flight and alarm calls, most consisting of shrill ringing calls in series.
Migration: Black Osytercatchers are permanent
residents in most of their range. Some populations may make
short-distance migrations after breeding, but generally remain close to
summer breeding grounds.
Distinctive, especially in range along the Pacific Coast. Similar in
structure to the American Osytercatcher.
Photo Information: June 10th, 2009 - Sutro Baths
area of coastal San Francisco, California - Terry Sohl