The American Oystercatcher is a large shorebird living in coastal environments around the world. In the United States, the Oystercatcher lives along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. There is a Black Oystercatcher that lives exclusively on the Pacific Coast.
In Central Palm Beach County, the Snook Islands have become a breeding ground and home to the American Oystercatcher. The birds had reportedly disappeared from the area for the last couple decades, but thanks to restoration efforts, the Oystercatcher has been able to make a home in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
A shy bird, the American Oystercatcher has a relatively low population with less than 9,000 birds residing in North America. While its numbers and range have been on the increase, they are vulnerable to marine habitat loss.
Oystercatchers nest in early spring just above the high tide mark, the male and female work together to construct the nest on the ground. In areas with many nesting Oystercatchers, they sometimes use communal breeding wherein one male and two females tend up to six eggs. Newly hatched chicks are fed by the parents for up to eight weeks. Young American Oystercatchers flock together and sometimes form pairs, but they don’t breed until their third year. The pairs may last for life. For more information, see the Audubon profile for the American Oystercatcher.
All photos taken in the Snook Islands from kayaks. For information on renting kayaks in the Lake Worth Lagoon, visit the Kayak Lake Worth website.