American Oystercatchers in Florida

american-oystercatcher-chick-mia-mcpherson-7865Resting American Oystercatcher juvenile – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

This juvenile American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) belonged to a family that I followed for a few months at Fort De Soto County Park in Florida from the time the chicks were two days old until they left the adults. I’d written about them here.

I like the resting pose and the eye contact I got from the young Oystercatcher and the background of the Spartina marsh. It was a great deal of fun to observe and photograph this Oystercatcher family for three and a half months.

American Oystercatcher adultAmerican Oystercatcher adult – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

I was on on Egmont Key when I photographed this adult American Oystercatcher, I was in a Florida Master Naturalist class at the time and we spent the day there.  The class instructor cut her foot open while jumping off of the boat she came on, I cut my knee open and ruined a brand new pair of hiking pants by kneeling on a broken shell within ten minutes of getting off of the ferry from Fort De Soto and about mid day we saw a boat get swamped by waves on the western shore of the island. Despite all of those mishaps it was a great day to be out there.

I adored the color of the water in the background of this image, a wonderful turquoise blue that reminded me of the Caribbean. Or the water off of the coast of New South Wales.

I don’t get to see or photograph Oystercatchers here in Utah but I still dream about these shorebirds and can hear their calls when I look at the thousands of images I took of them.



  1. Larry Jordan September 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Beautiful captures Mia! That photo of the adult is simply mesmerizing!

  2. Hilke Breder September 26, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Wonderful post, Mia, and great images! The more I look at your photos shot with the Nikkor 80-400 VR lens the closer I come to a decision on getting one too.

    • Mia McPherson October 5, 2012 at 7:22 am

      Thanks Hilke. I found that the 80-400mm VR lens was great for photographing birds in Florida, a little slow in low light but wonderful in great light.

  3. Karen Bonsell September 26, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Wonderful shots! I love that orange eye! Maybe I’ll get to see some when I visit Florida in the spring!!

    • Mia McPherson October 5, 2012 at 7:21 am

      Karen, I hope that you get to see the Oystercatchers when you go to Florida, they are such interesting birds. Thanks for your comment.

  4. M. Firpi September 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    It’s amazing the difference between the juvenile and the adult. I don’t think I would have been able to tell the difference. Oystercatchers frequent the coasts of solitary beaches in Puerto Rico also.

    • Mia McPherson October 5, 2012 at 7:20 am

      Thanks Maria, I loved watching the different stage of development the chicks went through.

  5. Carol Mattingly September 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Something about their eyes. Carol

    • Mia McPherson October 5, 2012 at 7:20 am

      They do have neat eyes. Thanks Carol.

  6. Bob Bushell September 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Great pictures of an Oystercatcher.

  7. Jim September 25, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Wonderful composition, pose and color contrast on that 2nd image, a pleasure to view.

  8. Tami Vogel September 25, 2012 at 9:07 am

    They’re such goofy but cool looking birds. These are wonderful photos of them. The color of the surf just sets them off. I especially love the cute chick photos on the next page – they’re adorable!

    • Mia McPherson October 5, 2012 at 7:18 am

      Tami, they are kind of goofy looking but very interesting looking birds too. Thanks so much for your comment.

  9. Linda Rockwell September 25, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Wonderful photos! Love the eye in the second one!!

    • Mia McPherson October 5, 2012 at 7:18 am

      Thank you Linda, I think they have wonderful eyes!

  10. Scott (@NESASK) September 25, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I love these birds too. Being out in the prairies here, it’s always a treat to see them when we can get out to the coast. You captured some stunning photos of them!

    • Mia McPherson October 5, 2012 at 7:17 am

      Thanks Scott, I miss seeing them since I moved to Utah because they are amazingly beautiful birds. Thanks for commenting.

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