|American Oystercatcher on the shoreline|
Local beachgoers and saltwater anglers know the Oystercatcher because of their specialized and bright red bill. True to their name, these shorebirds choose to eat oysters as their preferred food source, though they can eat other offerings like insects and worms too. The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan lists them as a ‘Species of High Concern’, and South Carolina coastal habitat plays a key role in the recovery efforts for the American Oystercatcher.
From spring into summer, S.C. hosts about 400 breeding pairs of oystercatchers that utilize our ample sandy beaches, mudflats and oyster rakes. The jet-black coloration of their head and neck provides a sharp contrast to the red bill that is unique among shorebirds. Like many shorebirds, they make their nest in a simple depression in the sand and their speckled eggs serve as camouflage against would be nest raiders.
Representatives from Manomet Conservation came to S.C. this spring to visit the Yawkey Center in Georgetown County and to identify shorebirds, and they also sponsor the World Shorebird Day that takes place every September 6. Visit the Internet at www.amoywg.org to view the American Oystercatcher Working Group. The 2015 Shorebird of the Year is recognized as the Red Knot and while it migrates further than the American Oystercatcher, it does utilize South Carolina beaches during Neotropical travels.
To view past blog entries about encounters with the natural world click on Bats - Snakes - Honey Bees