By American Oystercatcher Recovery Campaign Coordinator Shiloh Schulte
On July 15, WHSRN Conservation Specialist Meredith Gutowski Morehouse and I banded three American Oystercatcher chicks in Winthrop, Massachusetts.
These birds were the chicks of an oystercatcher with the bands “Yellow 25” that I banded as a fledgling in 2004 on Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, Massachusetts. Yellow 25 and the Winthrop oystercatchers are a great example of the kind of knowledge we can gain from a large banding and resighting effort.
After I banded Yellow 25 in 2004, she stayed in the Monomoy and South Beach area in the fall before migrating to the Cedar Key region of the Florida Gulf Coast.
Manomet-led aerial surveys and numerous boat-based resight surveys by Oystercatcher Working Group partners Patrick Leary, Doris Leary, and Janell Brush have documented the Cedar Key area as a critical wintering site for American Oystercatchers. 10-15% of the total U.S. oystercatcher population spends the winter in the Cedar Key area, and resights of banded birds demonstrate that Cedar Key is particularly important for oystercatchers from the northeast.
Yellow 25 spent another three years in Cedar Key before returning to the northeast to look for a mate. Susannah Corona, then working with the Mass Audubon Coastal Waterbird Program, first recorded Yellow 25 nesting at Yirrell Beach in Winthrop, Massachusetts, in June 2008.
Yellow 25 is now ten years old and is in her seventh year of nesting at the same site in Winthrop. She and her mate are among the most productive oystercatcher pairs anywhere, consistently fledging 2-3 chicks per year. The average is about one chick for every two pairs.
Several of Yellow 25’s chicks have joined her in Cedar Key for the winter, though at least one spends the winter at Hereford Inlet in New Jersey. Another of her chicks that also winters in Cedar Key now nests at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
These resight records demonstrate the need for range-wide conservation of breeding and wintering sites and the value of our active and engaged network of conservation partners and volunteers.
Thank you for supporting conservation and respecting the dedication and hard work of these fascinating birds and their human admirers.
As the Coordinator for the American Oystercatcher Recovery Project, Shiloh is responsible for working with diverse partner organizations along the Atlantic Coast to identify and foster research and management programs that will aid the recovery of American Oystercatchers. Read more about Shiloh in his bio.