Musselcatcher

(Burrowing Owl Update Below)

Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus X) and Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)

The Black Oystercatcher and the Western Gull eyeballing one another in the photo above both have shellfish on their menu, if they can catch it But their mutual interest doesn’t lead to hostilities, at least not that I saw. After a few glances at one another, the two birds went in different directions. The oystercatcher pried loose a mussel, carried it to a convenient eating rock, and proceeded to make a breakfast of it. The bird had probably found the mussel’s shell open underwater and inserted its bill to keep it from closing. The bird could have cut the bivalve’s tough adductor muscles if necessary, but now it didn’t have to. Note that the bird’s nearby feathered fellows kept an eye on the proceedings but didn’t try to horn in. It was all very civilized among the birds, though not for the mussel, of course.

I render the oystercatcher’s scientific name as Haematopus X, the X standing for “bachmani,” on the analogy of Malcolm X. Bachman was a notorious racist preacher and a friend of John James Audubon, the equally racist owner and trader of enslaved people. The poor bird doesn’t need to become a living statue keeping alive the name of this a__hole.

The Black Oystercatchers can be found not only on the east shore of the park, as in the video above, but also on the west shore, as in this photo by photographer Susan Black.

Burrowing Owl Update

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Dec 18 2022

The Burrowing Owl moved to Perch B this morning — the spot near the big Fennel bush where park visitors who knew where to look could see at least its top half outlined against the water. My short video shows a bird that’s awake and alert, and paying particular attention to air traffic. Its neck can track flying objects probably quicker than any human technology.

There’s no way to know whether the bird abandoned yesterday’s Perch A out of general principles or because a human set up a fishing spot on the northeast corner of the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary, very near Perch A. This is the second fisher intrusion into the Sanctuary in the past week.

Here’s the spreadsheet that tracks the bird’s location. Care to wager where the owl will perch tomorrow?

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