Oystercatcher count surprises

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from The Daily Triplicate September 27, 2011.

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Oystercatcher count surprises

  1. 1. Oystercatcher count surprises | Crescent City California News, Sports, & Weather | The T... Page 2 of 6 Oystercatcher count surprises Written by Triplicate StaffSeptember 27, 2011 05:21 pm Scientists are pleasantly surprised with the result of a June count of black oystercatchers up and down the California coast. The count conducted by Audubon California and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over two weekends, resulted in sightings of 1,346 birds and 175. When compared to the total amount of suitable habitat, the preliminary result suggests the total number of breeding oystercatchers in the state may be higher than the last estimate of 1,000-1,200 individuals, the Audubon Society said in a press release. In Del Norte County, seven participants counted 79 birds and five nests. “It was a mixed group of expert amateurs, and professional biologists, but all volunteered their time,” said Audubon spokeswoman Daniela Ogden. “Areas covered included Pelican State Beach, Smith River mouth and False Klamath Cove.” “Several of the areas that were surveyed showed high densities of birds, as did neighboring Humboldt County, suggesting that Del Norte County is important for oystercatchers,” said Ogden. The bird’s population size is ultimately regulated by the availability of high-quality nesting and foraging habitats. The shorebird is one of the most distinctive birds in all of North America. The global population of the species is only about 10,000. It is entirely black, with bright yellow eyes and a bright red bill. Biologists consider the size of the oystercatcher population a good indicator of the overall health of the rocky intertidal community in California. “This is good news, especially considering the black oystercatcher’s vulnerability to human disturbances,” said Anna Weinstein, seabird program director. “It is completely dependent upon marine shorelines throughout its life cycle, which means we cannot forgo continued conservation efforts.” The highest bird densities were reported from Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Virtually all nests were located on rocks tidally separated from shore and with high shelves and niches. With this information, conservation efforts can be directed to address specific issues like survival and reproduction success,” said Weinstein. “The next step is to determine what these action items are.”

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