LAS BACHAS - WALKING ON THE BEACH AND SAW OYSTERCATCHERS
Santa Cruz Island Travel Blog› entry 11 of 22 › view all entries
(ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECT DAY IN PARADISE)
The oystercatchers are a group of waders; they form the family Haematopodidae, which has a single genus, Haematopus. They are large obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prying open molluscs.
In some species, the bill shape varies according to the diet. Those birds with blade-like bill tips pry open or smash mollusc shells, and those with pointed bill tips tend to probe for annelid worms.
They are found on coasts worldwide apart from the Polar Regions. They are all-black, black and white or brown and white in appearance.
The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a distinctive shorebird found up and down the eastern coast of North America, the Gulf of Mexico and the western coast of South America. They are a common sight in Galápagos, where they can be seen on the coast poking around tidal pools and along rocky shores. Some ornithologists consider the Galápagos American Oystercatcher to be an endemic subspecies, known as Haematopus palliatus Galapagensis.
The American Oystercatcher is easily identified by its red-rimmed eyes, black head, white body, greyish-black wings and white legs. Its most distinctive feature, however, is certainly its long, thick, bright orange beak which looks from afar like a large plastic drinking straw.
As you might imagine, the preferred food of the American Oystercatcher is shellfish. Using its sturdy beak, an American Oystercatcher can pry apart an oyster, clam or mussel. It then snips the muscle that holds the shells together and eats the oyster at its leisure. Their long beak allows them to poke into small nooks in lava-formed tidal pools that are too deep for other predators.
American Oystercatchers are shy and will dart or fly away if closely approached.