Blog Description

Mound House Happenings shares the latest in ongoing projects, site improvements, scheduled programs and events, plus interesting facts and photos on our unique archaeology, history and ecology.

Mound House

Mound House
October 15, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CREATURE FEATURE #25 - American Oystercatcher

 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus) 

A wide variety of shorebirds inhabit the Florida coastline, each filling a unique ecological niche between land and sea. And of course, that is where human encroachment is at  its greatest along the Gulf Coast. As such, many of these species are listed as threatened or endangered, or, as in the case of the American Oystercatcher, listed as a “Species of Special Concern” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The FWC estimates that there are only about 1,000 of these individuals living in the State. But little is known about the movement, migration, or the population of these birds.

 The Oystercatcher, with their dark brown back and white underside and a bright red bill, is one of the largest and heaviest of our shorebirds. In flight, a diagonal white stripe on each wing forms a “V”pattern.
These birds need extensive sandbars and mudflats in which to forage and nest. They are very sensitive to human disturbance and require remote locations to thrive, which is very hard to find on the coast of Florida. Oystercatchers usually nest in shallow depressions scraped out of sand and surrounded by water.This makes them subject to predators such as raccoons, foxes, dogs, and cats.

 According to the FWC, Oystercatchers get their name for their habit of snatching oysters from slightly open shells. They use their powerful bills to open mollusks and sort through shells on the beach in search of food.