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Banded American Oystercatcher Discovered

Posted on Feb 27, 2015

Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History President Twan Leenders recently returned from Bradenton, Florida where he was attending RTPI board meetings. In between sessions he made sure to find an hour or two for some bird surveys, especially targeting species relevant to active RTPI conservation projects. Our work as a partner in the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds has us focused on the terns, long-legged waders and threatened shorebirds like the American Oystercatcher seen here.

American Oystercatcher Florida banded 2

Did you happen to notice the silver federal band on the bird’s right leg? This would be very difficult to read, even with binoculars or a scope, but thankfully this individual has a special color band on its left leg.

American Oystercatcher Florida banded

The yellow band has black characters on it that say “38” and are separated by a dot with the “38” repeating for better visibility. The American Oystercatcher Working Group website has a photo gallery list of bands that are used on the species in different states, and as you can see Massachusetts is a match.

This bird was banded in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 2008! It has been recorded in the spring and summer breeding seasons over multiple years in Martha’s Vineyard, the famous Massachusetts island to the south of Cape Cod. During the wintering season it has been seen repeatedly over the years in areas across Manatee County, including Anna Maria Island. It definitely needs to be discovered, recorded and entered in migration so that we can see where it spends its time feeding and refueling during Florida to Masschusetts trips like the one coming up…now! It should be migrating north on any day at this point, if it is not already on the move, and New England usually starts to see its first bold birds returning in late February.

Considering the unbelievably historically cold and snowy conditions that have occurred in the past month in the Northeast region, with many locations suffering through the coldest month ever recorded, I would have to think they will be arriving a bit later this year. Nevertheless, once we hit mid-March they will be moving in with strong numbers and the climate will finally yield. Please report any banded bird you can at reportband.gov or on specific project websites for certain species like this one. If you ever have questions about where to report a banded waterbird like this one or need some assistance please feel free to email us at the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds at [email protected] Please stay on the lookout for various banded and flagged Piping Plovers, too. I just hope to find this bird on a beach in Connecticut in the next few weeks!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator