Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture

Black oystercatcher

Black oystercatcher
(Haematopus bachmani)

Habitat
Islands and mainland coast with unvegetated rock and cobbles, wandering onto jetties, gravel, and sand beaches in nonbreeding season.

Range
Resident on Pacific coast from southern Alaska to Baja California; some local movements, and northern populations somewhat migratory. Vagrant to Idaho and Sonora.

Eats
Oystercatchers will eat oysters when given an opportunity, but most eat limpets, clams, snails and chitons.

Feeds
They stab partly opened mussels and clams, pry limpets from the rocks, or hammer a hole in shells of oysters. Rarely probes in sand.

Moves
Usually seen walking slowly among rocks and gravel for its molluscan prey. Usually in pairs or small groups, aggregates into groups of up to a few dozen at roosts, occasionally more than 100 together.

Threats
Oil spills. Human-induced disturbances on islands where Black Oystercatchers nest have eliminated local populations.

Reproduction
The breeding season is characterized by strong territorial behavior toward other oystercatchers around nests and nearby foraging sites. Nests are located in the territory and just above the high tide line on bare rock, in shells, gravel, sand, or tufts of grass and among logs. Most nests are shallow scrapes in shell fragments or gravel but some are built in grass or on bare rock. Typically two or three egg clutches are laid in a clutch in May and June. Chicks are brooded by the parents nearly continually in the first few days after hatching. Young oystercatchers are precocious which allows them to accompany their parents into the intertidal portion of beaches in search of food.

Notes
Oystercatchers often are heard before they are seen. Their loud whistling wheep-wheep is shrill and carries above the sound of the surf. They also utter a softer more rapid repeated hew-hew-hew-hew call when they are becoming alarmed.



Contact for page content: Liam Antrim
Photo of peach coral
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