Fun American Oystercatcher Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 18, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
American oystercatcher facts are interesting for bird enthusiasts.

Are you fascinated with shorebirds? If yes, then the American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a shorebird that you should know about.

American oystercatchers belong to the order Charadriiformes, the family Oystercatchers, and the genus Haematopus. These birds are primarily seen along the Atlantic Coast and can also be spotted on the Pacific coast of North America. However, these birds are also commonly seen on South American and Central American beaches and coastal areas during the bird's migration period.

The long orange bills alongside the black and white contrasting plumage of these birds make them look spectacular. These intelligent birds are known to nest beside beaches, but it makes sure to keep the nest above sea level to avoid tidewater.

Want to know more about American oystercatchers? Keep on scrolling and reading to learn more about this bird that frequents beaches. Also, check out our articles on king rail and Limpkin to know more about birds.

American Oystercatcher Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American oystercatcher?

The American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a type of shorebird.

What class of animal does an American oystercatcher belong to?

American oystercatchers belong to the class Aves, order Charadriiformes, family Oystercatchers, and to the genus Haematopus.

How many American oystercatchers are there in the world?

It has been estimated that the American oystercatcher range is around 43,000 individuals. The number of breeding individuals around the USA's Atlantic and Gulf Coasts is said to be around 1,500 birds.

Where does an American oystercatcher live?

American oystercatchers have been found in several countries, especially in places like the United States, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and even Peru. It is thought that this bird species is native to the Atlantic coast of North America.

In the U.S., the bird species inhabit different places between Massachusetts and Florida as their breeding spot. American oystercatchers can also be found in areas of the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast.

Sometimes these birds are also seen on the Pacific coast in Baja California of Mexico. The diverse geographical range of this bird makes it hard to know its migration route.

What is an American oystercatcher's habitat?

American oystercatchers are known for inhabiting several different types of habitats. These birds also change their habitat based on the season, especially when they are migrating.

Some of their common habitat range includes coastal areas, sand and shell beaches, marsh islands, mudflats, and dredge spoil islands. The bird is even found on the edges of salt marshes, especially in the breeding season because of the abundance of food sources in reefs, oyster beds, and clam flats. These birds are seldom seen in any inland habitat.

Who do American oystercatchers live with?

American oystercatchers are communal and social birds, and this species can be seen to brood together in groups of up to 100 birds. These birds also migrate together to different areas, especially during the breeding season.

How long does an American oystercatcher live?

American oystercatchers are regarded as a bird with a long lifespan. The average age for this bird is about 10 to 17 years. Some individuals have even managed to live to 40 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of American oystercatchers lasts from February to July. These birds are generally monogamous. Bonding between the pairs starts in spring, and the clutch is produced in the summer.

The mating display of these North American birds includes visual and auditory displays. Female birds are the ones to initiate the mating. Both sexes partake in making the nest.

These birds nest in elevated areas that are above sea level so that their nests are not affected by the tide. Salt marshes, rocky shores, and beaches are selected as places for building the nest. Pebbles are used in the nest to camouflage it from predators.

About two to four eggs are laid in each breeding season. Hatching takes about 24 to 28 days. The chicks are often out of the nest within 24 hours, but some of the chicks may remain with their parents for up to six months.

It takes three to four years for American oystercatchers to reach adulthood. Even though the chicks can feed themselves after hatching from the eggs, their bill isn't strong enough. Male birds feed the young with regurgitated marine invertebrates.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, American oystercatchers are currently listed as Least Concern. These birds were thought to be extinct in the 19th century in some areas of New England because of the predation of their eggs, but the species was later reintroduced.

These birds aren't currently endangered, but they are facing a problem of habitat loss.

American Oystercatcher Fun Facts

What do American oystercatchers look like?

American oystercatchers are simply beautiful, and their bill is the most striking feature. The long bright orange bill helps this species to stand out among other birds.

The tip of its orange bill has a yellowish tinge giving it a nice look. The yellow and orange contrast is also seen in their spectacular eyes. Apart from the bill, most of the American oystercatcher's body is fairly simple.

The bird has brown feathers on its wings and backside, while the underside and chest area are covered with white feathers. This bird species also have black feathers in its neck and head region.

Their feet have a pale pinkish color. When the bird is in flight, a narrow white patch can be seen on its wing along with a v-shaped patch on its rump. The whole look of the bird, especially the long orange bill, sets this North American bird apart from similar species.

Two adult American Oystercatchers on a rock, with a young bird.

How cute are they?

These birds are extremely cute because of the contrasting colors present in their plumage. The narrow sleek body of this bird gives it an elegant look.

How do they communicate?

American oystercatchers love to vocalize, and they have different calls, especially during the breeding season. These birds have a loud rising call that gradually descends. This bird species uses its call for different purposes such as to call its peers or even as a warning alarm.

Young birds are known for calling their parents for food. The call is described as a piercing 'kleep'. The bird also produces a clear call that is similar to clovers.

How big is an American oystercatcher?

The average size of American oystercatchers is 15.7-17.3 in (40-44 cm). These are big birds and have a wingspan of 31.9 in (81 cm). This bird species is similar in size to Eurasian oystercatchers which have an average size of 16–18 in (40-45 cm). Female birds are slightly bigger than males.

How fast can an American oystercatcher fly?

The average flight speed of an American oystercatcher is between 32-35 mph (51-56 kph). However, this bird doesn't like to fly except during migration. It might be hard to catch these North American birds while in flight mode.

How much does an American oystercatcher weigh?

The average weight of American oystercatchers is between 14.1-24.6 oz (400-700 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the male and female of this species.

What would you call a baby American oystercatcher?

Ababy American oystercatcher is known as a 'chick'.

What do they eat?

By their very name, you can easily tell that an American oystercatcher is known for eating marine invertebrates. The long bill of these oystercatchers is built for getting through the hard shells of prey like bivalves, mollusks, clams, worms, crabs, and shellfish, which form the main food source for these birds.

The bird uses a stabbing motion to get through the bivalves to eat the juicy bits.

The birds also use a hammering motion for preying on animals with harder shells. It hammers on the shell until it breaks to reach the softer parts of the animal.

Are they dangerous?

No, these birds aren't dangerous but they can be aggressive to each other during the breeding season.

Would they make a good pet?

Not at all! You shouldn't even think about making this bird your pet as it is illegal to have them in your home.

Did you know...

American oystercatcher eggs are white or light brown with black splotches or spotting.

Do American oystercatchers migrate?

Yes, American oystercatchers do migrate in the winter. These birds living in New Jersey often migrate to the Gulf of Mexico.

How did the American oystercatcher get its name?

An American oystercatcher was formerly known as sea pie, but it was renamed in 1731 as the American oystercatcher by the naturalist, Mark Catesby when he saw the birds feeding on oysters.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including willet or laughing gull.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our American oystercatcher coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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