Notes from the Naturalist: American Oyster Catchers

We have been seeing a lot of Oyster Catchers so far this year.

Oyster Catchers are not a rare bird in our area, but you don’t see them often unless you hike certain beaches where they like to nest. The most likely spot to find them in our area is on the inner shore of Napatree Point, most of the way out the 1-mile spit. But this spring, for some reason, they have been making regular appearances around our property.

Oyster Catchers are one of my favorite birds. They are a medium sized wading bird with brown and white graphic body plumage, a black head, and a giant bright orange bill with orange-rimmed yellow eyes. They are impressive when viewed with the un-aided eye, but through good binoculars, or even better a spotting scope, they are really something! In the air they often let out a sharp whistle-like call as they fly along.

Oyster Catchers use their chunky bill to hammer open bi-valves such as mussels or oysters. The bird in the photo is exhibiting very characteristic behavior as it forages on a mussel bar just off Napatree Point.