Galapagos American Oystercatcher Bird

The Galapagos American Oystercatcher bird has a loud shrill call and can be seen in tidal pools along Galapagos beaches.


This Galapagos bird has a bright red bill (which is both a hammer and a knife) and uses it as an oyster shell opener.

These beautiful looking counter-shaded waders use their bright beak to stab a bivalve between the shells of many molluscs and slice the strong adductor muscles to get at the meat inside.

They also hammer away on the shell of a sea urchin, crab or mollusk.

They patrol the beaches of Galapagos for food and are somewhat approachable, they actually come close to tourists. Chicks are often seen trying to get their own food when just a few weeks old.

The Galapagos American Oystercatcher has a black and white plumage, the top part of its body and its wings are black, the underparts white.

Some ornithologists consider the Galapagos American Oystercatcher to be an endemic subspecies, known as Haematopus palliatus Galapagensis.

The American Oystercatcher is easily identified by its red-rimmed eyes, black head, white body, greyish-black wings and white legs.

Its most distinctive feature, however, is certainly its long, thick, bright orange beak which looks from afar like a large plastic drinking straw.

American Oystercatcher Feeding

Their preferred food is shellfish. Using its sturdy beak, this bird can pry apart an oyster, clam or mussel.

It then snips the muscle that holds the shells together and eats the oyster at its leisure.

Their long beak allows them to poke into small nooks in lava-formed tidal pools that are too deep for other predators.

Galapagos Islands Shorebirds

These Galapagos birds are usually wading birds, that spend most of their time in coastal zones.

Most Galapagos shorebirds use resources found along beaches or rocky shores, feeding on shellfish or fish found in tide pools. Like the seabirds, there are few endemic species on the Galapagos Islands.

Most birds are considered residents whereby they breed in the Galapagos Islands but are also found elsewhere.

A number of the shorebirds are migrants and are not permanent residents of Galapagos. The Galapagos American Oystercatchers are exceptions.

They are present all year around and nest along the coastline of the Galapagos Islands.

One way to differentiate Galapagos resident birds from migratory birds is the capacity of tolerance the residents have developed to the environment of these Islands.

There are between 100 and 200 pairs of American oystercatchers in the Galapagos Islands.

The striking black and white plumage, large size, and bright orange bill make this bird quite unlike any other.

Galapagos Birdwatching is one of the most amazing activities you can experience in the Galapagos Islands.

The isolation, from continental South America, has given each Island in Galapagos a unique wildlife characteristic.

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