American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Haematopodidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

We do not have a complete account for this species.

The summary below is an overview from The Birds of North America Online.

BNA Account Authors: Nol, Erica, and Robert C. Humphrey

The American Oystercatcher is a large, conspicuous shorebird, common in coastal salt marshes and sand beaches throughout the central part of its range. One of the few birds to specialize on bivalve mollusks living in saltwater, this species is completely restricted to marine habitats. Two races breed in North America┬┐the eastern nominate race along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts south, and a second race along the Pacific coast from northwestern Baja California south. While the eastern race has been studied both in winter and during the breeding season, the biology of the western race is poorly known. Eastern oystercatchers regularly winter in large flocks, from Virginia south along the Atlantic coast.

Although this oystercatcher inhabits coastal areas where human encroachment, habitat loss, and destruction are threats, the recent establishment of large coastal reserves (particularly in Virginia and North Carolina) helps to protect the center of its abundance. This species adapts well to dredge spoil islands, and is often the most common breeder in such locations. Its future success, however, depends on its coexistence with humans in salt marshes and dunes areas, and possibly on the mitigation of factors affecting any rise in sea level.

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© Paul Marvin

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: