Lunch Time with the American Oystercatcher

Most of the summer visitors to Crystal Cove State Park have headed back home, but last month, a different sort of warm weather visitor ruffled feathers when an American Oystercatcher was spotted in the Park’s tidepools!

The American Oystercatcher shares many similarities and characteristics with its more common relative, the Black Oystercatcher, but it can be identified by its bold white underside and brightly colored bill. While Black Oystercatchers are commonly seen along the western coast of North America, the American Oystercatcher is usually found along more tropical areas such as Baja California and South America.

It’s not known for sure why this unusual visitor ventured so far north, it might have been looking for a snack. As its name implies, the American Oystercatcher primarily feeds on bivalves such as clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. It squeezes its long, brightly colored bill between the two shells, snipping the bivalve’s abductor muscle to prevent it from closing and allowing the Oystercatcher to easily eat the meat within.

With California’s warm weather continuing, keep your eyes open for any other strange visitors to the Park!

Top image: Snack time in Crystal Cove’s tidepools
Photo courtesy of Peter Bryant


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