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I admit it - I'm BLOY-crazy.  Shall we turn the spotlight on...

san mateo_0842 bloy odd

... the BLack OYstercatcher?

It's kind of an odd name.  I mean, there's not much to "catching" an oyster - it's not like they're going anywhere.  Oysterhunter would make more sense, but I digress.

Oystercatchers are large-ish shorebirds who make their living, for the most part, by prying and smashing mollusks with their awesome orange bills. They will also eat other creatures found along the shore, but are not typically fish eaters.

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Rock stars.

Here in North America, we have two species of oystercatcher, American (found on the east and Gulf coasts, and on the west coast of Mexico) and Black (found on the west coast.)  They prefer rocky coastal areas because that supports the mollusks they prefer and provides good breeding spots.  If you look at their eastern range, there's a gap along the Louisiana coast and another at southern Florida.  Presumably the marshy areas and sandy beaches in those locations doesn't give them what they need.  (mm or anyone else, feel free to chime in here if I'm utterly wrong.  Or even mildly wrong.)

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I would like to see those awesome American Oystercatchers.  One flew by San Francisco about a year and half ago.  I was not there for the 45 seconds that it was visible.  * sigh *  

American Oystercatchers are black and white, one of the two color-combos of oystercatchers worldwide.  Our west coast Black Oystercatchers have, unsurprisingly, all-black plumage, the other colorway available to oystercatchers.  They do seem to know that accessorizing with a shot of color can really make the look pop.

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Black Oystercatchers build simple scrape nests, mostly in rocky coastal areas.  They don't have the same sort of habitat encroachment problems of beach dwellers like Snowy Plovers, but they have a relatively limited population and climate change could affect them severely.

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Seeing an oystercatcher is always a high point for me on a coastal trip.  They're fascinating to watch as they explore the rocks, probing for their meal.  When they have something to say, they've got a cheerful whistled note.

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One more reason for action on climate change.  A world without oystercatchers would be a lesser world, indeed.

Hey, west coast birders (and other observant people) - the International Bird Rescue and Research Center announced their second annual blue-banded pelican contest.  They place the blue bands on birds they've rehabbed; your reports can help them determine how successful their efforts were.  They can also win you some free gear from Eagle Optics.  Citizen science with prizes!
"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!

After a hiatus of over 1 1/2 years, Meteor Blades has revived his excellent series.  As MB explained, this weekly diary is a "round-up with excerpts and links... of the hard work so many Kossacks put into bringing matters of environmental concern to the community... I'll be starting out with some commentary of my own on an issue related to the environment, a word I take in its broadest meaning."

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.  You can find yesterday's edition here.  Be sure to recommend and comment in the diary.  

Originally posted to lineatus on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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