Oreo's chick, CJX, begs for food on the Fourth of July.
A melee ensues whenever food is brought to the chicks.
Oreo feeds one chick as another rushes in to snatch the food.
Oreo receives a chick bump.
Oreo Feeds Her Chick
Oreo feeds her chick tiny clams called coquinas.
Oreo’s chick follows her, hoping for a snack.
American Oystercatcher Feeding
This American Oystercatcher and his mate were feeding in the marsh at Fort Desoto. Video by Tara Tanaka.
Oystercatchers on an Oysterbar
Oystercatchers eat just what their name implies: oysters. But they are not limited to only oysters. Clams, mussels, and other bivalves are also on their menu. They insert their long, skinny bills into barely opened shellfish and then turn them sideways, prying the two halves apart.
This clam was opened by an oystercatcher. Their bills leave behind the telltale chips you can see on the left side of the clamshell.
Looking for Food
Oystercatchers forage wherever shellfish are to be found, on oyster beds, partly submerged rocks (like the bird in this photo), marshes, and sometimes even beaches. They tend for feed at low tide, when shellfish beds are exposed.
Dinner’s on the Bill
Sometimes in the process of prying a shell open, it gets wedged onto the oysercatcher’s bill, like this ribbed mussel has done. However, the birds can easily pry it back off.
Time to Eat
Once the shell is opened, the oystercatcher can eat the meat inside on the spot or carry it back to feed to chicks.
A Lesson in Opening Shells
Sometimes the oystercatchers will return to their nesting territories with intact shellfish and open them where the chicks can see. Here an oystercatcher has flown back with a ribbed mussel. To provide leverage, it has wedged it in the sand and is prying the shell open.
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