Bird Droppings: Black Oystercatcher

What the hell is this bird?

On a recent walk on the edge of a secluded bay I spotted a few birds that I had never seen before.  It was such a strange bird that I had to get some shots of it and learn more of its story.  It kind of had the body of a duck, the feet of a chicken and the bill of a kiwi.  The first one I saw just sat at the waters edge and didn’t move much as I approached.

I then spotted the mate feeding by the shoreline.

It kind of slowly walked away keeping an eye on me while heading towards the mate.

Eventually it let me know that I was close enough by fluffing up and showing me what a large scary bird looks like.

After consulting with the beach house residents and getting the “I have no idea” answers, I asked one that actually works on a whale watching boat.  She had no problem identifying it as a black oyster catcher.  After reading about them, I learned this was a couple, they travel in pairs and the ones this color range from Alaska to Oregon.  They get lighter in color the further south you go down the west coast.    

They have a very distinctive call to talk to each other, you can check it out here and learn more about this cool bird.

Enjoy your Sunday & get out there and enjoy the birds while we still have them.



  1. I actually have something avian-related to contribute. Well, kind of. I was recently leafing through my open source ( copy of Apicius. No one really knows who wrote it, but it is maybe the first and probably the best-known ancient cookbook, produced sometime around, maybe, the first century AD. My copy is a very scholarly translation done by a classicist in, I’m guessing, the 19th century, so even the translation could use a little translating.

    There are many references to a bird called a “figpecker.” This must have been well-known to a Victorian audience, but I had never heard the term. Wikipedia has a brief entry, who knows how reliable, that claims that a figpecker is the western Orphean warbler. 

    Just FYI.

  2. Nice! My first thought was a skimmer, because of the red beak, but the feeding method was all wrong, then the shot with the open beak threw that id out, skimmer has a shorter top beak. Around here we see the occasional american oystercatcher, more so to the south around Cape Cod. I had never seen one until I went to the gulf coast of Texas. Birding in TX was a revelation, people in MA would drive miles to see a bird, A bird. In TX you would see a huge flock of them. Too bad there are peoples there, too.

  3. I have a birb story, too! I don’t know if anymore remembers when I saw Mr. Cardinal feeding seeds to a bird that was very obviously not Mrs. Cardinal and was perplexed. I couldn’t find out why he would do this, and thought maybe it was some weird cardinal behavior.
    But yesterday I saw a chipping sparrow feeding seeds to a screaming tub of feathers over twice its size. I’m like, that can’t be the baby?? Extensive googling led me to “parasitic cowbirds,” which lay their eggs in other bird’s nests to get out of parent duty. Ingenious! But damn it’s loud.

      • Unfortunately it does not work for the host bird. The parasitic hatchlings often push the host’s hatchlings out of the nest and the parent birds are run ragged trying to keep up with the food demands of the parasitic hatchlings. Nature is cruel, as they say.

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