Last week, I shared a photo of a pair of American Oystercatchers taking a stroll down the beach. The stark contrast between the pale green water of the Gulf and the bold colors of these shorebirds was evident, even from a distance. Today I wanted to share another photo of an American Oystercatcher that really showed off the detail of this beautiful bird. Their bright red beaks are usually spotted straight away, but what I really love are their eyes. Set against their jet black heads, their vibrant yellow eyes and bright red eye rings truly stand out.
American Oystercatchers are one of my favorite birds. They are so very exotic looking with their long red beaks, it’s hard not to notice them on the beach. I knew of one pair of American Oystercatchers that lives on Caladesi Island State Park, and the day that I went out to shoot it was my goal to get a few new shots of them. Much to my surprise, there was not one, but two pair on the beach that day! One pair was quietly resting on the beach, not really wanting to pose for many photos while a little further north, this pair was walking along the shoreline while feeding.
After my first encounter with these magnificent birds a few years ago, I learned that they mate for life. While many birds mate for life, what always strikes me with American Oystercatchers is that I rarely see one without it’s mate. They are usually very close to each other, very conscious of the other, and seem to be rather devoted to each other. I loved this photo because to looked to me like these two were on a “date” having a nice stroll along the beach, talking about whatever it is American Oystercatchers talk about these days.
One of the most striking shorebirds, American Oystercatchers are rarely confused with other birds. Their bright red beak is designed specifically for chiseling open oysters and other mollusks. Matching that bright red bill is the ring around their yellow eyes that gives American Oystercatchers a very unique look. Often mating for life, they nest on undisturbed beaches, like this one at Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin, FL. Although American Oystercatchers can be found along the entire East and Gulf coasts of the US, I had never seen one before moving to Florida. Visiting Caladesi Island often, I always look for the pair that nest there, remembering that they were the motivation to buy the very handy Birds of Florida Field Guide by Stan Tekila.
American Oystercatchers are one of the most distinctive shorebirds found in the United States. Usually found in pairs, American Oystercatchers are monogamous and pairs may last thier entire life. True to their name, the Oystercatchers use thier long bright red bills to feed on oysters and other mollusks along the shore. While not endangered, populations of American Oystercatchers are low and several states have them listed as ‘species of concern’ with Florida listing them as ‘threatened’. There are roughly 400 pairs of American Oystercatchers in Florida with approximatley ten percent living in the Tampa Bay area. This pair of American Oystercatchers lives on Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin, FL, in a protected habitat.