Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 35: Oysters anyone?

The Black Oystercatcher is the only shorebird that breeds on the Farallones. They are also misnamed. Oystercatchers don't eat oysters. They eat a variety of intertidal organisms including, mussels, limpets and chitons. The Oystercatchers are another example of a species that has benefited from the protection of the refuge. They were extirpated from the island at one time but since have since recolonized. We currently have around 20 breeding pairs on the island. They breed primarily in areas we cannot access during the summer so the lucky person that gets to monitor them spends many hours at the lighthouse squinting through a spotting scope trying to determine where their nests are. Oystercatchers are the only surface nesting bird on the island that frequently leaves it's nest unprotected, relying on the cryptic coloring of the eggs to keep them safe from the gulls. This cryptic coloring works on humans as well so finding their nests is always a challenge.

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