Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Tuesday's Truths Week Two: The American Oystercatcher's Beak Functions Somewhat Like the Beak of a Bluejay!
Last Tuesday (July 19th), here on Blogger, was my first week of publishing a feature I hope to keep going within this blog. This feature is Tuesday's Truths, which I stated would be entries about interesting truths that I've discovered about the flora that grows in my urban (NYC) garden, and or the antics I've observed re the avian creatures which visit it.
Today only marks my second week with this format, and I'm already expanded my spectrum, for one of the bird types I will be discussing in this post is not one who has visited my garden. It is a type that I met this past Sunday and is a shorebird known as the American Oystercatcher (pictured above taking refreshment from the Atlantic Ocean).
I encountered this interesting bird type this past Sunday when I was at Long Beach, which is a fifty mile train trip from NYC. The opportunity to go there arose during a visit from my sister who used to visit me on an annual basis. We have been to Long Beach on a number of occasions. I've always been intrigued by the antics of the seagulls, as well as the sandpipers. These are members of the shorebird community who come out in droves to enjoy this spot.
However, I've never seen an American Oystercatcher at Long Beach, or anywhere else, and I was thrilled to discover this bird type. Upon my return home, I did some research, and according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, an organization I am familiar with because of my 2014 and 2015 participation in GBBC, the American Oystercatcher, is "a large, boldly patterned bird (and) is conspicuous along ocean shores as well as salt marshes." I was most delighted to discover this interesting bird and to be able to take his/her photos (a couple of my pictures of this awesome bird type are featured below).
Cornell also states that American Oystercatchers "use their long, blade-like, orange bills to catch shellfish unawares, seizing them before they can close up. (They) frequently walk or run rather than fly. They walk across shellfish beds and when they encounter one that is partially open, they jab their bill into the shell and sever the strong muscle that clamps the shells shut."
The technique of jabbing their bill into a fish's shell to open it, reminds me of the method bluejays use to open shells of peanuts they get from feeders in my garden.
However, in the case of the American Oystercatcher, cracking shells open is not without its risks. Cornell states that "Oystercatchers sometimes drown after a tightly rooted mussel clamps down on their bills and holds the bird in place until the tide comes in."
Be that as it may, in spite of the fact that they take a chance of drowning when procuring food, the American Oystercatcher seems to live life to the fullest with enjoyment.