This time I heard them before I saw them. It was low tide in the morning. I stepped slowly toward the edge of the embankment, so as not to startle anyone, and there they were. Thanks to a screen of fennel and other plants along the edge, they ignored me. I’ve seen oystercatchers in this spot before. This time the green seaweed draped over the rocks made a colorful background for the dramatically feathered birds. It’s a very distinctive sound.
Like Spotted Sandpipers, but much less frequently, the oystercatcher sometimes dips his rear end. Willets do it, too. Don’t know why.
The Audubon bird website has this about the Black Oystercatcher’s eating habits:
“Forages mostly near low tide, resting at high tide. When feeding on mussel beds, typically removes the mussel from its shell and leaves the shell in place. The birds have two methods of opening the shells of bivalves. In one, finding a mussel with its shell slightly open, the oystercatcher quickly jabs its bill into the opening, cutting the muscles and then cleaning out the contents. In the other method, the bird simply hammers on the shell to break it open.”
Note: Oysters aren’t mentioned.