While we wait for Oreo’s return to Wrightsville Beach, other pairs of oystercatchers are not wasting time. It’s April, when most oystercatchers in North Carolina begin nesting. On the south end of Wrightsville Beach, where Oreo nested last year, two other pairs of oystercatchers have set up territories and are selecting nest sites. They’re unbanded, so we don’t know if they are the same birds from last year, but since oystercatchers often return to the same territory, changes are good that they are.
Both pairs are spending their time sitting together on the beach, piping together to strengthen their pair bond, and defending their territories against other oystercatchers. One pair, whose territory is immediately adjacent to Oreo’s nest site, has even formed a scrape. The scrape is just a simple excavation in the sand, which the male and female help to create. They sit down and kick with their feet and wiggle their bellies back and forth, creating their version of a nest. It’s not as dainty or elaborate as songbirds’ nests, but they serve the oystercatchers well. Last year, this pair nested on the same dune and fledged a chick successfully.