The Oystercatcher

The Oystercatcher is generally a sedentary bird and is well established on Pabay. Its shrill, penetrating 'kleep' often draws attention to two or three waders flying low over the sea or shore. They settle and feed along the edge of the sea, looking for shellfish, which they rap with their bills and then prise open. The shores around Pabay are covered with these shells.

In spring and summer oystercatchers put on what is called a 'piping performance' at their breeding sites. Territorial birds form circles and run up and down, pointing their bills to the ground and piping out their shrill call. All through the nesting period the off-duty parents stands guard, ready to give its 'klee-ee' alarm call at the first sign of an intruder. Oystercatchers from other nests in the area respond to the call by mobbing the outsider, and young birds freeze motionless, camouflaged by their down. These birds can be readily observed from Pabay, particularly at low tide where an excellent view of the foreshore is obtained from the house.

Recognition: black and white, long orange bill, pink legs, sexes alike.

Nesting: both sexes scrape into the ground, female selects final scrape, lines it with shells, pebbles and sometimes vegetation, lays April-May, 2 or 3 eggs, pale buff with black spots and blotches, incubation about 27 days, by both parent, chicks tended by parents, leave within a few hours, fly at about 4 weeks

Feeding: mussels, cockles, periwinkles, and other molluscs, crustacea including crabs and shrimps. The environment of Pabay is ideal for these birds.

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