Oystercatchers | The Salt Marsh

Boldly patterned in black and white, the stocky American oystercatcher is hard to mistake. It has long red legs and a large red bill. As the name suggests, they feed mainly on oysters, although they also eat other animals associated with the oysters. They use their heavy bill as we would an oyster knife. When they sneak up on an oyster that is slightly open, they quickly slip their bill into the opening and cut the muscles that hold the shell closed, then eat the oyster on the half shell. When the oysters are tightly closed, the bird hammers its bill against the oyster like a woodpecker, eventually forcing open the oyster.

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SC LIFE / The Salt Marsh / 10. Oyster Reef