Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) Facts


The black oystercatcher, scientific name Haematopus bachmani is a conspicuous black chicken discovered on the shoreline of western North America. It ranges from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to the coast of the Baja California peninsula. This article will discuss the black oystercatcher.

Black oystercatcher

The black oystercatcher is the one consultant of the oystercatcher household (Haematopodidae) over most of its vary, overlapping barely with the American oystercatcher (H. palliatus) on the coast of Baja California.

Inside its very, it’s mostly known as the black oystercatcher, though this title can be used regionally for the blackish oystercatcher and the African oystercatcher.

Its scientific title is derived by John James Audubon from that of his buddy John Bachman.

The place the Pacific Ocean breaks towards rocky shorelines, pairs of those huge black birds stalk about on the rocks and close by flats.

If disturbed, they take flight with loud, ringing whistles, simply heard above the sound of the waves. Their vary stretches from Alaska to Baja, however Black Oystercatchers are scarce alongside the coast of southern California, the place the shoreline is generally sandy, not rocky.

Though the species just isn’t thought of threatened, its world inhabitants measurement is estimated between 8,900–11,000 people.

The black oystercatcher is a species of excessive conservation concern all through its vary (U.S., Canadian, Alaskan, and Northern & Southern Pacific Shorebird Conservation Plans, for example), a keystone indicator species alongside the north Pacific shoreline, a management indicator species within the Chugach Nationwide Forest, and a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service focal species for precedence conservation motion.

black oystercatcher Feeding

Forages principally close to low tide, resting at excessive tide. When feeding on mussel beds, it sometimes removes the mussel from its shell and leaves the shell in place.

The birds have two strategies of opening the shells of bivalves. In a single, discovering a mussel with its shell barely open, the oystercatcher rapidly jabs its invoice into the opening, chopping the muscle tissues after which cleansing out the contents. Within the different techniques, the chicken merely hammers on the shell to interrupt it open.


The black oystercatcher is a big totally black shorebird, with an extended (9 cm) vivid crimson invoice and pink legs. It has a vivid yellow iris and a crimson eye-ring. Its plumage varies barely from north to south, being darker additional north.


The black oystercatcher is restricted in its vary, by no means straying removed from shores, particularly favoring rocky shorelines. It has been prompt that this chicken is seen totally on coastal stretches which have some quieter embayments, similar to jetty protected areas.

The black oystercatcher forages within the intertidal zone, feeding on marine invertebrates, significantly mollusks similar to mussels, limpets, and chitons. It is going to additionally take crabs, isopods, and barnacles.

The black oystercatcher hunts by the intertidal space, trying to find meals visually, typically so near the water’s edge it has to fly as much as keep away from crashing surf. It makes use of its robust invoice to dislodge meals and pry shells open.

The black oystercatcher is a territorial chicken in the course of the nesting season, defending a foraging and nesting space in a single territory.

Some pairs of black oystercatcher have been recorded staying collectively for a few years. Nests are small bowls or depressions near the shore during which small pebbles and shell fragments are tossed in with a sideward or backward flick of the invoice.

black oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani

Round 2 to three eggs are laid on this nest, these are very onerous and might even survive being submerged by an excessive tide or very excessive water ranges. The incubation of the black oystercatcher takes around 26–28 days.

The chicks are able to leave the nest in the future and can keep within the territory for a very long time after fledging (40 days).

The fledged juveniles will keep within the territory till the following breeding season. If the dad and mom migrate, that yr’s chicks will migrate with them; this occurs extra typically within the north of the vary.

The black oystercatcher Eggs

2-3, typically 1. Pale buff to olive noticed and scrawled with brown and black. Incubation is by each dad and mom, 24-29 days.

Younger: Downy younger of the black oystercatcher stays close to nesting at first; dad and mom take turns guarding the younger and going to get meals for them, strolling backward and forwards to close by intertidal zone.

Older chicks observe their dad and mom in feeding areas and are fed by them there. Younger can fly at age 5 weeks or older; start to catch a few of their very own meals then, however, are nonetheless fed by dad and mom for a while thereafter.


Downy younger stay close to nest at first; dad and mom take turns guarding the younger and going to get meals for them, strolling backward and forwards to close by intertidal zone.

Older chicks observe their dad and mom in feeding areas and are fed by them there.

Younger can fly at age 5 weeks or older; start to catch a few of their very own meals then, however, are nonetheless fed by dad and mom for a while thereafter.

Weight-reduction plan

Principally mussels, limpets, different shellfish. The weight-reduction plan varies with place and season, however, feeds totally on mussels the place they’re ample; additionally limpets, whelks, urchins, crabs, marine worms, beetle larvae.

Younger birds, newly unbiased, could eat fewer mussels at first, maybe missing the ability to open them.

The black oystercatcher eats quite a lot of invertebrate marine life together with mussels, whelks,, and limpets. Regardless of its title, it not often eats oysters!

The black oystercatcher particularly likes to eat creatures that cling to the rocks under the high-tide line. It often forages at low tide and rests at excessive tide.

The principal weight loss plan of the oystercatcher seldom entails oysters within the UK! They predominantly eat bivalves, together with cockles and mussels.

Given their reliance on shellfish, it’s thought that previously native declines could have been linked to the shellfish business lowering the quantity of obtainable prey.

People have two foremost strategies for dealing with their troublesome prey of The black oystercatcher.

Some, which have shorter, blunter payments, specialize in hammering the prey by the shell. Others, with longer, pointier payments, prise the 2 shells aside.

Oystercatchers inhabit marine shorelines, favoring rocky shorelines. They make their nests above the excessive tide line on offshore rocks, rocky shores, and sand/gravel seashores.

The everyday nest bowl is small despair within the sediment containing rock flakes, pebbles, and shell fragments. Foraging habitat is primarily low-sloping gravel or rock seashores the place prey is ample.

Oystercatchers feed on quite a lot of intertidal invertebrates together with mussels, limpets, chitons, crabs, barnacles and different small creatures. Opposite to what their title implies, they don’t feed on oysters.


It could mate all the time. Nearly all the time nests on islands. Pairs sometimes defend a breeding territory that features each an elevated space for nesting of the black oystercatcher, nicely above the excessive tide and adjoining feeding space with mussels beds or different meals supply.

Nest web site is on the floor nicely above the high-tide mark, on gravel, grassy space, or despair in rock. Nest (constructed by each sex) is a slight scrape, with sparse lining of pebbles, items of the shell.


Rocky coasts, sea islets. Discovered in any respect seasons alongside rocky shorelines, particularly on small offshore islands the place predators are fewer; chooses areas with ample shellfish and different marine life.

In winter, additionally generally discovered on mudflats near rocky coastlines, however, makes use of mudflats much less in the summertime.

Throughout the winter, oystercatchers are nonetheless very a lot a chicken of tidal estuaries and rocky shores.

Throughout the breeding season, nevertheless, they are often discovered a lot of additional inland because of populations transferring alongside linear waterways.

In Aberdeen and different Scottish cities, they’ve even been recognized to nest on rooftops!

Causes for Decline

Black oystercatchers are extremely weak to pure and human disturbances.

Main threats embrace predation of eggs and younger by native and non-native predators; coastal growth; human disturbance (e.g., induced nest abandonment, nest trampling); vessel wakes, particularly once they coincide with excessive tides; shoreline contamination similar to oil spills (leading to each direct mortality and oblique results similar to discount in meals availability or high quality); and world local weather change, with its resultant results on feeding and/or nesting assets.

Data is missing on the contaminant and pollutant ranges regionally, and the way these would possibly have an effect on health, particularly in or close to extremely developed areas throughout the species’ vary.

Conservation standing

Nonetheless widespread alongside Pacific Coast, quite a few in some areas. Susceptible to results of oil spills and different air pollution in the intertidal zone.

Additionally very weak to a disturbance at nesting websites related to black oystercatcher.

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