Nov 17 2013
American oystercatchers look so unusual that it’s hard to mistake them for anything else: big orange bill, yellow red-rimmed eyes, bold black, white and brown pattern, and thick beige legs.
Gintaras Baltusis found these two at Breezy Point, New York in late September. Look closely and you can see they aren’t the same age.
The juvenile (below) has the same feather pattern but doesn’t have yellow eyes and his bill is still half black.
Before Mark Catesby renamed them in 1731 American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) were called Sea Pies because of their pied plumage. Fortunately their new name describes what they eat and cannot be confused with what we eat, a casserole called a Sea Pie.
Can you think of other pie-named birds? I know of three in North America.
(photos by Gintaras Baltusis)