Pied oystercatchers – image by Dorothy Pashniak
Words and image by Dorothy Pashniak
I had intended to continue a description of migratory shorebirds while they are down here in our area for the summer. However, a couple of weeks ago I had a sighting of a rather special Australian shorebird.
There are shorebirds that are resident in Australia. Some of these birds are similar to ones that also live in the northern hemisphere but some of them are quite different.
One of the easiest to identify is the pied oystercatcher. It is a striking looking bird with black and white feathers and a red bill, legs and eyes. Pied oystercatchers are found in many places around the bays, but the ones I saw the other week had a young one with them.
I have been watching and photographing shorebirds around these bays for at least the last 10 years, but this was only the second time I have found adults with a juvenile. It is much more common to find adults on a nest, but they seldom manage to raise young ones from the eggs they lay.
Their nest is just a scrape in the sand and it is usually found close to the high tide mark. There are too many people and their animals walking around the bay to make such nests safe. There are also bird predators. There are other large shorebirds and gulls, and even some land birds, that are very happy to find eggs and make a meal from them.
I have watched pied oystercatchers sitting on a nest with several crows sitting in trees close by waiting for the parent bird to take a break from the nest!
Juvenile pied oystercatchers very quickly grow as large as their parents, but there are differences in their colouring. Juveniles have very pale grey/pink legs, brown eyes and a dark bit on the lower part of their bill.
If you want to join a shorebird count before the migratory birds return to the northern hemisphere, phone Dorothy Pashniak on 5488 0057