American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)

The American Oystercatcher is the only species that reaches Costa Rica, out of 12 species that compose the family Oystercatcher family. They are all very similar, mainly varying in terms of their plumage color. The American species has a brown-gray back, white underparts, pink legs and black head. The eye is yellow with surrounding orange orbital skin, and the bill is large and slim, orange in coloration, which is used to grab and eat shellfish. The inner plumage of the wing is also white, and is shown during flight, or also during displays when wading in the shallow water.

Due to their peculiar look, they are easy to identify among flocks of migratory birds, which normally are composed of gulls, terns, plovers and sandpipers, but are not as abundant during migration and any of those families. They are among the largest of such migratory bird groups. They prefer mud and salt flats that are exposed and shallow, where they can wade to grab prey. They feed by either severing the muscles that enable the mollusks to close tight, hereby getting the meaty interior out, or by grabbing the entire body with the shell, and hitting it against rocks to slam it open.

American Oystercatcher - Haematopus palliatus - Ostrero Americano

Two oystercatchers peacefully wading across a salt flat in Chomes, Puntarenas

American Oystercatcher - Haematopus palliatus - Ostrero Americano (2)

At the afternoon, birds would display by raising their wings every now and then. I prepared and tried to get one such moment, and got rewarded with this picture.

 

One thought on “American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)

  1. Pingback: Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) | The Nature Admirer

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