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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 1:20 EDT

American Oystercatcher

The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), also known as the American Pied Oystercatcher, is a species of bird of the family Haematopodidae. It is found on the Atlantic coast of North America from New England to northern Florida. In Florida, it is also found along the Gulf Coast. In the 1800s it became locally extinct in the northeast due to hunting and egg collecting. After receiving protection from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, its range extended back into New England. Although threatened, it is not protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The adult is approximately 19 inches long and has a unmistakable black and white long body. The beak is orange and thick.

These birds are shoreline dwellers and nest on beaches of coastal islands. They feed on marine invertebrates. They use their large, heavy beak to pry open mollusks. The female lays two to three eggs. They are found in coastal flocks from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico during the winter.

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American Oystercatcher