Adult and juvenile American Oystercatchers feeding side by side

Adult and juvenile American OystercatchersAdult and juvenile American Oystercatchers feeding side by side – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/750, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

In 2008 I spent several months during the summer watching an American Oystercatcher family from the time the chicks were tiny until one of the chicks became independent. Actually it was until both chicks were independent, one seemed to be ready to leave the parents quite early and I lost track of it after several days, the Oystercatcher chick above stayed close to the parents well into the fall.

There are two species of Oystercatchers in North America, American and Black. I am very familiar with American Oystercatchers but have yet to have my lens on a Black Oystercatcher, I suppose that is something I need to add to my bucket list.

Oystercatchers are monogamous and very territorial, both incubate their young but the female spends more time at it. Oystercatchers have been known to “egg dump” and leave their eggs in the nests of other species like gulls and abandon them to be raised by the other birds. I would love to witness and photograph that because seeing a gull raising an oystercatcher would be fascinating and probably quite amusing too.

Until 1843 Oystercatchers were called “Sea Pie”. What a name.

I like the intimate feeling my image above conveys with my lens a small window into the world of this oystercatcher family. I also like how the prey is shown right in the middle of the juvenile’s open bill.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing birds. My approach is to photograph the birds without disturbing their natural behavior. I don't bait, use set ups or call them in. I use Nikon gear and has multiple camera bodies and lenses.


  1. ohh, wonderfull, what a nice moment to get the both so close from each other, and from you,
    an other enjoying moment for you mia, bravo =)))
    and have a nice day

  2. What a blessing to get to watch those babies grow. Love their colors and you always capture such great emotion! Still reading and commenting when I’m not on the work puter…..and as always – enjoying and learning.

  3. I assume that ‘Sea Pie’ is like ‘Mutton Bird’, an ugly euphemism.
    And I love this window into the Oystercatcher family. Thank you.

    • Hi Elephant’s Child – Mutton Birds really were eaten as a vital source of food for early settlers in Tasmania and islands in Bass Strait, Australia. Apparently they were very oily!


  4. Great photo Mia, and Your narrative made the story …. i think you are right about seeng a family of birds..and the joy of following youngsters from the time they arrive on the nest until they venture out… It gives a backstory to who they are….

  5. Excellent shot, Mia. You captured the action just right!

  6. Very nice! I’ve never seen one in real life. Maybe one day!

  7. Excellent image of the Oystercatchers.

  8. That’s great timing, Mia. I hope “Sea Pie” doesn’t indicate what it seems to!

  9. What a cute shot, Mia! I love the Oystercatchers.

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