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Types of Birds
With the rare visit of the Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), North America officially hosts three oystercatcher species.
In addition to oysters, they all feed on mussels and other shellfish found in their territory during low tides.
The more widespread American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) lives along the coastal areas of the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Baja California hosts a year round population on the Pacific coast, just south of the traditional North America boundary cut off point.
Many of the native eastern species also reside year round in one location, with the addition of a migratory population for some of the more northern breeders.
The Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani), the West Coast species, lives and breeds in a very narrow range along rocky coastlines.
They can grow to over two feet in height, and their black feathers and bright orange bill make for very easy field identification.
Picture three shows a black oystercatcher in a typical breeding season scene, alone atop a rock, in search of food. Their rocky coast habitat preference contrasts with the sandy beach preferences of the American Oystercatcher.
Generally oystercatchers tend to be more gregarious and assemble in flocks during the winter season.
The Black Oystercatcher's limited habitat creates population vulnerabilities in areas where development affects their living space and water pollution affects their food source. Typically they reside year round in one location.
© 2004-2011 Patricia A. Michaels