Birds

We encourage visitors to the island to stay clear of all bird nesting sites.  Increased peace can makes a difference in the lives of the birds and the viability of their offspring.

American Black Oystercatcher

(Haematopus bachmani)

     Look for:  Black plumage
                        Smaller than a seagull
                        Red/orange bill (to 9 cm) and pink legs
                        Bright yellow iris and a red eye-ring
                        High pitched peeping call
(to hear the oystercatcher call, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology 
website and click on the "call" button )

    Habitat: Rocky intertidal, often right at the water's edge
                    Range from Baja to Aleutians
                    
    Feeding: Invertebrates such as mussels, oysters and limpets
                    Birds hammer a hole in oyster shells and pry limpets 
                    off rocks.  Birds also jab adductor muscle of mussels 
                    at water's edge.

    Nesting: Very territorial
                    Nests on the ground
                    "Nest" is a rocky bowl in which small pebbles or shell
                         fragments are placed.
                    Nesting site often has a good view of surrounding area
                    Often nest on islands
                    Lay 2–3 splotchy beige eggs
                    Each pair make a single nesting attempt per breeding
                        season.
                    Both male and female birds sit on nest (females sit more
                        often while males guard territory).
                    Eggs incubate in 26–28 days
(watch the video below to see oystercatcher chicks hatching) 
                    Young are capable of leaving the nest after one day.
                    Birds fledge in 40 days.
                    Even after fledging young must be fed by adults.
                    Juveniles stay in territory until next breeding season.
                    Juveniles will stay with adults through migration.
                    Strong fidelity to nest site from year to year 
                            (one pair is recorded as defending the same nesting 
                            site for 20 years).
                    Monogamous, strong fidelity to mate.

    Conservation Status: "High concern"
                    Highly vulnerable to human disturbance    
                    Easily agitated near nest
                    Sensitive to water quality, pollutants and oil 
                        (20% decline in population after Exxon Valdez)
                    Indicator species
                    Keystone species




Northern Rough-winged Swallow

(Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

     Look for:  Plain brown plumage, dull brown head 
                        Pale brown throat
                        "Rough" outer wing feathers that have hooks or
                            points on the edges
                        12–15 cm in length
                        Long winged, stocky songbird
                        Tail square with white undertail coverts
                        Small bill
                        Swift, graceful flight alternates several slow, deep 
                            wingbeats with short or long glides
                        Territorial male gives a series of short, low-pitched
                             notes 
(to hear the northern rough-winged swallow call, visit The Cornell
Lab of Ornithology Website and click on the "call" button ).
                        Juveniles similar to adults but have reddish-brown
                            wing bars
    Habitat:  A variety of open habitats;, prefers low elevation 
                     Prefers forest, wetland ecosystems near water
                     Especially likes sandy, coastal cliffs
                     Breeds southeastern Alaska and southern Canada south
                        throughout U.S.
                     Winters in southern latitudes from California to the 
                        Gulf Coast
    Feeding: Flying insects
                   Catches insects in flight, often close to ground or water
    Nesting: Breeds in open areas with access to openings
                            in vertical surfaces such as banks or cliffs
                     May dig own burrow 1–6 ft. long or use burrows 
                            excavated by other species such as bank swallows
                            or kingfishers 
                    Lays  4–8 white eggs
                    Hatchlings helpless with sparse down
                    Usually nests in small colonies of several pairs
                    Incubation 12–16 days
                    Both parents feed young
                    Young leave nest after 19–20 days

Conservation:  Nationwide, the population has not declined.  However, in Washington, the population has showed slight decline since 1966. Further, the population is patchily distributed.  River flooding and cattle have caused a decline in nesting sites.  Development has led to an increase in artificial nesting sites.

Notes: The function of the rough wing edge, most prominent in males, is not known.  The barbs can only be detected in the hand.
The Greek genus Stelgidopteryx means "scraper wing" and the Latin species name, serripennis means "saw feather.



 oystercatcher                                                    photo by Nancy Alboucq




oystercatcher chick and parents


oystercatcher eggs in shell nest



northern rough-winged swallow