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American Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher

A crimson bill perfectly adapted to shuck oysters and mollusks

What you need to know about the American Oystercatcher

The American Oystercatcher is a favorite resident of the Galápagos. It can be identified from its characteristic long red beak, black and white body, and stout-looking light pink legs. The female Oystercatcher tends to be slightly larger than the male, sporting a longer bill.

On your Galápagos cruise, you will most often encounter them on the central, north and south beaches of the islands. You can spot them either from on board your boat, or during a beach excursion with your Galapatours naturalist guide. You may also encounter them among dunes, salt marshes or mud flats.

The American Oystercatcher feeds on bivalves, mollusks, and crustaceans which they dig out using their perfectly adapted strong and powerful red bill. This large and heavy beak is used by the Oystercatchers to pry open mollusk shells; they are named because oysters are a crucial food source in their diet.

During breeding season you may be fortunate enough to see the birds’ courtship rituals. The Oystercatchers walk together, with both adults attracting each other’s attention by using distinctive piping calls. Oystercatchers become very territorial over their nests and often hide their eggs, disguising them with pebbles or broken pieces of shells. This smart behaviour helps to protect them from possible predators. On your Galápagos cruise, you will be able to learn much more about these charming birds, as well as photograph their beautiful red bills.

American Oystercatcher: Interesting facts

Distinctive red beak is the perfect tool for opening shells

Courtship "dances" are wonderful to see

Disguise their nests with shells and pebbles to fool predators

Easy to spot from on board or during a beach excursion

American Oystercatcher: Pictures from our travelers

American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher

Spots where the American Oystercatcher can be observed

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

Our trips to spot the American Oystercatcher

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