Throughout March and early April, oystercatchers have been returning to the North Carolina coast. Many were wintering in Florida, while others spent their winters in South Carolina. Of the six birds in the Oystercatcher Tracking Project, five have now been resighted at their nesting sites. Orange Green and Arnie were the first two to reappear, and now Cape Lookout biologist Jon Altman reports that all three Cape Lookout birds have returned to the Outer Banks.
First, UP is back. He and his mate UR staked out a territory on South Core Banks near the iconic lighthouse, but failed to fledge any chicks most likely due to predation. However, both have returned to the same area to try again. They were first spotted on April 4 and like most oystercatchers in the state will soon begin nesting. Thanks to banding, we know that it’s not unusual for the same individuals to pair up year after year. However, we also know that UP and UR winter in different areas–UP in South Carolina and UR in Florida.
Next, on April 10, CF7 and CFX were spotted back on their territories on North Core Banks. CFX was seen within a quarter mile of her 2013 nest, and CF7 is less than a mile from his territory. Both of these birds spent their winters in South Carolina. Now, the wait is on for the first nests to be found as these pairs pick up where they left off last year, working hard to raise the next generation of oystercatchers.