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American Oystercatcher

Posted on Mar 30, 2016

The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is one of our focal species in the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds. Many are now pairing off across Connecticut, finding the right place to start a nest next month. Last year our work helped the species make history! The 2015 population, consisting of 161 individuals that included 52 breeding pairs and 57 non-breeding individuals, was spread out over 31 different sites including barrier beaches and offshore islands. The breeding pairs successfully fledged an astronomical total of 64 chicks resulting in 1.23 (chicks/breeding pair) productivity.

American Oystercatcher SMP-9161

This is a dramatic increase in productivity from previous years, doubling or nearly tripling recent results. It is possible that more American Oystercatchers reached sexual maturity and attempted to breed last year. More significantly, it is our hypothesis that the species generally needs one to two years of nesting experience and attempts at raising chicks before they become adept enough to successfully fledge these young on a consistent basis. Our outreach initiatives have greatly benefited the birds with increased public awareness in critical nesting areas, enhanced protection with additional signage, fencing, and boater engagement, and volunteers monitoring breeding locations on the beach and on boats. In short, our slow and steady past success with American Oystercatchers has ascended to lofty levels as the species achieved this rapid gain and tremendous success due in part to our collective efforts.

Once again, please continue your work as a monitor or volunteer in 2016 if you are not already or join us for your first season by emailing [email protected] – thank you so much!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator