Search

Sooty Oyster Catcher Haematopus fuliginosus anchors sea snail in rock crevice

on 1st September 2023

A Sooty Oyster Catcher was seen manipulating a sea snail ( probably a Black periwinkle, Nerita sp. ). The bird wielded its long beak like a pair of chopsticks: picking up the rounded snail like an expert and anchoring its prey in the crevice of a rock. It then proceeded to probe the aperture to pull out the snail body. The rounded snail slid along the long rock crevice and the oyster catcher looked for another position to lodge the snail more firmly. The bird was persistent and it is presumed that the snail was consumed in small morsels. This is possibly a male bird as it prefers to tackle a shelled prey. Females prefer prey which can be consumed readily.

Image 1: Sooty Oyster Catcher picking up the rounded sea snail expertly with its long beak. Photo by Wong Kais. 25 August 2023. Granite Island, Victor Harbor.
Video 1: A Sooty Oyster Catcher, Haematopus fuliginosus, anchors a rounded sea snail in a rock crevice in order to pull out the fleshy body. At the end of the video, the bird makes a loud call – triumph or frustation? Wong Kais. 25 August 2023. Granite Island, Victor Harbor.

The oyster catcher was also seen probing the mudflat in quick, energetic motions. The prey are not identifiable from the video but these birds are known to feed on snails, bivalves and polychaetes.

Image 2: Sooty Oyster Catcher probes mudflat during low tide for prey. Photo by Wong Kais. 25 August 2023. Granite Island, Victor Harbor.
Video 2: The bird also probes the mudflat while wading in shallow water. Wong Kais. 25 August 2023. Granite Island, Victor Harbor.

A pair of these birds were also seen near the Inman River Mouth running along the water’s edge but did not seem to forage here. Later, they located themselves further up from the water’s edge where the sand was less compacted. Here, they found abundant food as they probed the damp and loose sand furiously and swallowed small prey which are not discernible. Silver gulls, Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae, were also feeding furiously nearby.

Image 3: A pair of Sooty Oyster Catchers feeding on the beach where the sand was damp and loose. Photo by Wong Kais. 30 August 2023. Inman River Mouth, Victor Harbor.
Image 4: One of the Sooty Oyster Catchers probing the sand. Photo by Wong Kais. 30 August 2023. Inman River Mouth, Victor Harbor.
Video 3: A pair of Sooty Oyster Catchers running along the wet, compacted sand. Wong Kais. 30 August 2023. Inman River Mouth, Victor Harbor.
Video 4: The Sooty Oyster Catchers probe the damp and loose sand for prey. Wong Kais. 30 August 2023. Inman River Mouth, Victor Harbor.

The photos and videos here document the ingenuity of these birds in solving the dilemma of extracting food protected in hard shells. This post also documents the abundant and variety of food resources for these birds in Victor Harbor.

References:

  1. Sooty Oyster Catcher probing for marine worms https://besgroup.org/2019/01/20/sooty-oystercatcher-probing-for-marine-worms/
  2. Sooty Oyster Catcher eating a crab https://besgroup.org/2018/12/20/sooty-oystercatcher-feeding-on-a-crab/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sooty_oystercatcher
  4. https://ebird.org/species/soooys1

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Categories
Archives

Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
482
14078
Visitors Today
52042885
Total
Visitors

Clustrmaps (since 2016)