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.
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.
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.
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.
- Sooty Oyster Catcher probing for marine worms https://besgroup.org/2019/01/20/sooty-oystercatcher-probing-for-marine-worms/
- Sooty Oyster Catcher eating a crab https://besgroup.org/2018/12/20/sooty-oystercatcher-feeding-on-a-crab/