Oystercatcher chick born in Oregon catches a flight to Monterey Bay

Oystercatcher chick born in Oregon catches a flight to Monterey Bay
Photo courtesy of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

This is a press release from the Oregon Coast Aquarium

A black oystercatcher chick that hatched in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Seabird Aviary exhibit this summer boarded a plane in Portland on August 29 to fly south to its new home at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The oystercatcher chick pipped through the shell of its egg and into the world on July 12. The bird, which now tips the scale at eight times its hatch weight, grew with leaps and bounds on exhibit thanks to its dedicated parents delivering tasty morsels of chopped clam, shrimp, fish and krill from the trays provided several times daily by keepers.

The Aquarium’s aviculture staff decided to allow the resident pair of oystercatchers they care for to incubate one of their eggs after receiving a request for a companion for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s black oystercatcher. The bird will join Monterey’s 20-year-old female that was rescued from the wild in Alaska.

“We are very excited to be able to provide a companion to our current oystercatcher,” said Aimee Greenebaum, Associate Curator of Aviculture at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.”The species is a visitor favorite with their bright orange beaks, loud vocalizations and unique foraging behavior of prying limpets off rocks. Our hope is these birds will inspire people to help conserve shorebirds in the wild.”

The two black oystercatchers at Oregon Coast Aquarium have been a mated pair for the past 18 years. C.J. McCarty, Curator of Birds at the Aquarium, said, “Chicks from this pair have been sent to aquariums across the United States, as well as abroad.” She added that the aviculture staff loves receiving requests for chicks because they can let the parents incubate some of their eggs. “Seeing the parents care for a chick and watching it grow is always very popular with visitors and staff,” said McCarty.

Jim Burke, Director of Animal Husbandry, explains the benefit of these efforts reaches beyond staff and visitor enjoyment. “The Aquarium often partners with other zoos and aquarium to breed animals for exhibit. These efforts provide facilities across the world with animal ambassadors that bring life to conservation messaging and reduces the potential impact of collection on wild populations,” Burke said.

The black oystercatcher is a common shorebird along the Pacific coastline of North America, often seen patrolling the rocky beaches and tide pools where they pry up shellfish using their long laterally-flattened bills. They prefer to live close to where they forage, nesting in hollows and depressions in rocks high above the tide line.