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American Oystercatcher

The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a distinctive shorebird found up and down the eastern coast of North America, the Gulf of Mexico and the western coast of South America. They are a common sight in Galápagos, where they can be seen on the coast poking around tidal pools and along rocky shores. Some ornithologists consider the Galápagos American Oystercatcher to be an endemic subspecies, known as Haematopus palliatus Galapagensis.

The American Oystercatcher is easily identified by its red-rimmed eyes, black head, white body, greyish-black wings and white legs. Its most distinctive feature, however, is certainly its long, thick, bright orange beak which looks from afar like a large plastic drinking straw.

As you might imagine, the preferred food of the American Oystercatcher is shellfish. Using its sturdy beak, an American Oystercatcher can pry apart an oyster, clam or mussel. It then snips the muscle that holds the shells together and eats the oyster at its leisure. Their long beak allows them to poke into small nooks in lava-formed tidal pools that are too deep for other predators.

American Oystercatchers are shy and will dart or fly away if closely approached. 

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: Lava Heron, Post Office Bay Visitor Site, The Flag Cabrilla, Red-Footed Booby, Punta Suarez, Galapagos Cruises: What's Included?, Floreana Visitor Site: La Loberia/Sea Lions Area, Sergeant-Major, Pink Iguana and More Isabela Visitor Sites.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
30 Mar 2007

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