The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a common sight on rocky and sandy beaches and saltwater lagoons on Galapagos. It has a bright red bill which it uses as an oyster shell opener. The American Oystercatcher has black and white plumage, the top part of its body and its wings are black, the underparts white.
American Oystercatchers feed on crustaceans and molluscs and are also able to open crab shells with their strong beaks.
These handsome looking countershaded waders use their bright beak to stab a bivalve between the shells of many moluscs and slice the strong adductor muscles to get at the meat inside.
The American Oystercatcher has a loud shrill call and is frequently both seen and heard around the shoreline.
American Oystercatchers patrol the beaches for food and are somewhat approachable, they actually come close to the tourists. Chicks are often seen trying to get their own food when just a few weeks old. This behaviour is typical of shore birds who are less dependant on their parents than sea birds.
Although American Oystercatcher populations are low, the species is not protected under the Endangered Species Act.
American Oystercatchers are listed as a species of concern in several states because of low and declining populations, and threats to coastal habitats.
Threats include development and recreational use of nesting beaches.
Oystercatcher species list:
Magellanic Oystercatcher, H. leucopodus
Blackish Oystercatcher, H. ater
American Black Oystercatcher, H. bachmani
American Oystercatcher, H. palliatus
Canarian Black Oystercatcher, H. meadewaldoi †
African Black Oystercatcher, H. moquini
Eurasian Oystercatcher, H. ostralegus
Pied Oystercatcher, H. longirostris
South Island Pied Oystercatcher, H. finschi
Chatham Island Oystercatcher, H. chathamensis
Variable Oystercatcher, H. unicolor
Sooty Oystercatcher, H. fuliginosus