American Oystercatcher

I’m a Baltimore Orioles baseball fan from way back.  Although Old Memorial Stadium was a bit run-down when I was a kid, it was the bright colored uniforms against the deep green grass that I remember the most. Watching Ripken and Robinson garbed in sharp black, white and orange was a beautiful thing.  I’m biased but always thought “The Birds” had the best-looking jerseys, with no offense meant to the other teams, except the Yankees.

One of my favorite things to do is paddling out into the marsh, taking pictures of shorebirds and waterfowl.  On any given day there are dozens of strikingly different species within sight. It’s a challenge, however, to get close enough before the Buffleheads flush, the Marsh Hen sneaks off or the Kingfisher rattles away to the next dock.  The American Oystercatcher, however, is the exception.  Working the mudflats and oyster bars with their self-absorbed fixation, they seem not to mind my clumsy approach.  Traipsing the marsh line and shell banks, they look for the slightest opening before going in for the strike.  I’m amazed at how easily they can open an oyster or clam when I can barely do it with ten fingers and a ten-dollar oyster knife.  Look closely at the video below and you’ll actually see an oyster being pulled out of its shell. 

Maybe I’m a bird-nerd but I’m fascinated with how each one is different, uniquely built for a specific purpose. And I continue to be amazed by the countless combinations of beautiful colors. None, however, more inspiring than black, white, and orange against the deep green grass.