Alaska Species Explorer

Black Oystercatcher

Common Name: Black Oystercatcher
Scientific Name: Haematopus bachmani
Distribution: Rocky seacoasts along cool Pacific shores from the Aleutians south to Baja California.
Conservation Status:

The black oystercatcher is a keystone species along the North Pacific shoreline and is believed to be a particularly sensitive indicator of the overall health of the rocky intertidal community. The black oystercatcher is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “Species of Concern” because of its small population size, restricted range, and threats to habitat from human and natural factors that may potentially limit its long-term viability.

Average Wingspan: 35 inches
Average Weight: 500-700 grams
Plumage Description:

Black body with pink legs, long red-orange bill and yellow eyes, no seasonal change

Diet in the Wild:

Salmon, herring, shad, and catfish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates such as crabs, and mammals including rabbits and muskrats.

Number of Eggs Per Clutch: 1-3 eggs
Incubation Period: 24-29 days

Bald Eagles are most widespread during winter, where they can be found along coasts, rivers, lakes, marshes and reservoirs in many states. They winter in large numbers at some lakes and national wildlife refuges.  They prefer tall, mature coniferous or deciduous trees that afford a wide view of the surroundings.

Threats in the Wild:

Highly vulnerable to natural and human disturbances. Major threats include predation of eggs and young by native and non-native predators; coastal development; human disturbance (e.g., induced nest abandonment, nest trampling); vessel wakes, especially when they coincide with high tides; shoreline contamination such as oil spills

Did you know?:
  • Their eggs are camouflageolive-buff with brownish-black blotches to blend into rocky beaches
  • They do not build a nest; they make a depression in the in rocky beaches called a “scrape”.
  • Contrary to what their name implies, they do not feed on oysters.