American Oystercatcher

Preening American Oystercatcher Preening adult American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

This American Oystercatcher image was taken nearly three years ago, it seems difficult to believe that is has been that long but I like it as much today as the morning I photographed it. The pose makes me want to laugh and perhaps give the image a caption like “Pilates anyone?”.

The morning light fell on the bird so nicely, illuminating the long orange bill, lemony yellow eyes and the beautiful brown and white plumage. I think American Oystercatchers are lovely birds right down to thier black Goth-like toenails. Although it was only February when I photographed this bird the Oystercatchers were already pairing up in preperation of nesting season.

I have yet to see and photograph the related Black Oystercatchers found on the Pacific coastline, one day soon perhaps!



  1. Larry Jordan January 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    A beautiful shot Mia. I love the pose and that eye, wow!

    • Mia McPherson February 1, 2012 at 5:20 am

      Larry, the eyes of American Oystercatchers are fascinating to me, love the color and how sharply the pupil and iris contast from each other. Thanks much for your comment.

  2. Dan Huber January 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    great pose and photo. I love their eyes, wonderful to see one so close up.

    • Mia McPherson February 1, 2012 at 5:16 am

      Dan, they are unique and beautiful. I love thier eyes too.

  3. Scott Simmons January 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    He sure knows how to strike a pose! Nice photo

    • Mia McPherson January 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you Scott, it was a cooperative bird.

  4. Tammy Karr January 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Absolutely amazing photo! The colors are brilliant!

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Thanks so much Tammy, they are wonderful birds to photograph and this one gave me a great pose!

  5. Laurence B January 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I’ve only seen the west coast Black Oystercatcher. It was just once, on a large rock being battered by the waves. The rock itself was pretty dark, and onyl the red beaks and eyes were visible as the birds were huddled about the shore-facing side of the boulder.

    This picture is fantastic. The reds are so vibrant they almost look rubbery. Do you think they really eat oysters?

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Laurence,

      They really do eat Oysters and other bivalves, they use the long thin bill to pry open the shells. It is pretty interesting to watch them do that.

      I would have been thrilled to see the Black Oystercatchers you described even if I hadn’t been able to photograph them. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  6. Bob Zeller January 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I have never seen an ooyster catcher. Nevertheless, this is an outstanding photograph. I love the sharpness of the bill and that lovely eye. The tones of the feathers are awesome. Beautiful, Mia.

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks Bob, the light really helped to bring out the lovely colors in the plumage and the eye. Your comment is much appreciated. I hope you get to see these beauties one day! 🙂

  7. Prairie Birder January 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I have yet to see either oystercatchers, beautiful photo as always.

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Thanks for your comment PrairieBirder, I hope that you get to see some Oystercatchers because they are fascinating birds.

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