Black Oystercatcher, Haematopus bachmani


Black Oystercatcher
Black Oystercatchers are year-round residents of the rocky and graveled Pacific shores of North America, one of the most colorful, noisy, and photogenic birds of this habitat. Despite their name, they rarely feed on oysters, mostly on mussels and limpets; see below.
 

Black Oystercatcher
Black Oystercatchers feeding: above, one uses its chisel-like bill to pry a limpet from an intertidal rock; below, another with water running through the pierced shell of a similar prey item.


Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatcher


Black Oystercatcher


Black Oystercatcher


Black Oystercatchers with Elegant Terns
Black Oystercatchers with Elegant Terns.


Black Oystercatcher
The male approaches carrying a pebble or food item; the female lowers her head, raises her tail, and calls. Of Black Oystercatchers it is said in Bent's Life Histories that "their antics of courtship are both noisy and amusing.” The birds pair for years, perhaps for life, and in central California a pair occupies the stretch of rocky coast that is their feeding and nesting territory year-around. The full sequence of photographs showing this pair mating can be seen here.


Black Oystercatchers
Above and below, the pair copulates, concluding with the female turning her head and touching bills with the male and then calling.


Black Oystercatchers


Black Oystercatchers


Black Oystercatcher
Above and below, a juvenile Black Oystercatcher; note two-toned bill and buff feather linings.

Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatchers
A family group, adult on right and two juveniles.