The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is listed as a species of high priority by the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan and is state-listed as rare in Georgia; however, biologists have not focused on identifying the causes of egg and hatchling losses. In 2003 and 2004, continuous video monitoring was used to document reproductive success of American Oystercatchers and identify causes of nest failure at Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia. The modified Mayfield method and program CONTRAST were used to determine and compare survival of eggs and nestlings. Eleven pairs made 32 nest attempts during two seasons. Nine attempts were successful, fledging 15 chicks. Daily survival of clutches was 0.973 (95% CI = 0.960-0.987) for 2003, 0.985 (95% CI = 0.974-0.995) for 2004, and 0.979 (95% CI = 0.970-0.987) for combined years. Daily survival was greater on the North End, than on the South End of the island (X21 = 7.211, P = 0.007). Eighteen of 20 nest failures during the egg stage and one of eight chick losses were documented. Egg predators included raccoon (Procyon lotor, N = 9), bobcat (Lynx rufus, N = 3), and American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos, N = 1). A ghost crab (Ocypode quadata) preyed on one chick. Other causes of nest failure were tidal overwash (N = 1), horse trampling (N = 1), abandonment (N = 2), and human destruction (N = 1). The North End of the island has one of the highest reproductive rates reported along the Atlantic coast. Predator control may be an effective means of increasing reproductive success on the South End of the island.
Additional publication details
Nest fate and productivity of American Oystercatchers, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia