American Oystercatcher

Haematopus palliatus

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)

Code 4

AMOY

Code 6

HAEPAL

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The American Oystercatcher has a large range of 863,000 square kilometers. This includes coastal habitats in the eastern and southern United States, parts of the Caribbean, Mexico, and much of Central and South America. Although exact numbers are not known, the population of this species is thought to include as many as 110,000 individual birds, and is believed to be large and stable enough to warrant a conservation rating of Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

American Oystercatcher: Large shorebird with white underparts, brown upperparts, black hood, long, bright red-orange needle-shaped bill. White wing patches visible in flight. Yellow eyes surrounded by orange eye-rings. Legs and feet are pink. Feeds on mussels and other bivalves. Rapid direct flight.

 

Range and Habitat

American Oystercatcher: Found exclusively along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Pacific coast of Mexico, the Baja Peninsula, and along the Gulf of California. Occasionally strays to coasts along southern California. Prefers sandy beaches, mudflats, and occasionally rocky shores where mollusk prey can be found.

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American Oystercatcher SONGS AND CALLS

American Oystercatcher C1

Flight call is a repeated "hueeep".

American Oystercatcher C2

Flight calls from a small group.

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

"wheep", "whee-ah", "wheer, wheer, wh' heh' heh' heh' heh' heh, heh' h' h' h"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • American Oystercatchers insert their long blade-like bills into mussels and other bivalves, severing the powerful adductor muscles before the shells can close.
  • Nesting adults will add broken shells or pebbles to the nests in order to disguise the speckled eggs.
  • Young nestlings can run within 24 hours of birth but their beaks are not strong enough to open bivalve shells until they are about 2 months old.
  • A group of oystercatchers are collectively known as a "parcel" of oystercatchers.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Ashli Maruster

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Eye ringX
The circle around the eye formed of feathers that are a different color from the rest of the face.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X