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
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
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)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
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
Swift, graceful flight alternates several slow, deep
wingbeats with short or long glides
Territorial male gives a series of short, low-pitched
(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
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
Winters in southern latitudes from California to the
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
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.