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Black Oystercatcher Monitoring Project

Dark brown bodied shorebirds with bright red-orange beaks are standing on a rock along the ocean. Black Oystercatchers.
WhaleTail grant logo

MAS has received funding from the California Coastal Commission through a Whale Tail grant.

Since 2011, Monterey Audubon has been supporting and spearheading the California Central Coast BLOY Monitoring Project in the Monterey Bay region and beyond. We directly monitor two study areas - the Monterey Bay South Coast consisting of 3 monitoring sections (Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach, and Point Lobos), and the Monterey Bay North Coast (northern Santa Cruz County coast and southern San Mateo County coast). There are other BLOY monitoring efforts south in San Luis Obispo county and north in San Francisco that we regularly communicate and strategize with. But thanks
to funding from our Monterey Audubon members and supporting donors, the project was able to monitor 79 BLOY territories for the 2022 season.

 

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Rick Hanks, helps to guide the work of the many volunteer monitors and our two paid BLOY biologists, Jennifer Parkin and Judith Romero. Additionally, thanks to a Whale Tail Grant procured by the Monterey Audubon Environmental Advocate Amanda Preece, we have had paid internship positions in 2022 and 2023. These positions were focused on supporting Latinx students from California State University Monterey Bay’s Undergraduate Research and Opportunity Center. Supporting students from diverse backgrounds in pursuing environmental science, conservation, and policy careers is a key part of Monterey Audubon’s work and we look forward to including internships in more of our conservation projects.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Black Oystercatcher (BLOY) Orientation/Refresher sessions are offered each spring. New BLOY Monitors are required to attend and seasoned volunteers are encouraged to attend to refresh their skillset.

The Spring Training Dates Are Set!

  • Zoom training date 1: Friday April 19, 10 am – 12 pm

  • Zoom training date 2: Saturday April 20, 1 – 3 pm

 

Please pick one or the other. This training is led by Rick Hanks, the BLOY Project Coordinator with the California Coastal National Monument. Follow this Zoom link to attend the meeting for one of these dates:

Zoom Link

Contact Amanda at montereyaudubon@gmail.com for any additional questions about the BLOY Monitoring Project, past data, or outreach events.

BLOY Project Summary reports can be downloaded below (PDFs):

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

The Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) is a bold and boisterous long-lived shorebird found year-round in Monterey Bay. It ranges along the North American Pacific coast from the Aleutian Islands to Baja California, favoring rocky shorelines. They forage exclusively on intertidal macroinvertebrates (e.g., limpets and mussels) and is thought to be a particularly sensitive indicator of the overall health of the rocky intertidal community. It is one of 11 living oystercatcher species globally and is closely related to the pied oystercatcher of the Gulf Coast, the American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates), who sometimes makes an appearance on the Pacific Coast and can hybridize with the Black Oystercatcher.

View of the rocky intertidal habitat along the Pacific Grove coastline.

Conservation efforts on behalf of Black Oystercatcher are limited by a lack of baseline information. Knowledge gaps exist regarding the locations and sizes of important breeding populations; local and global population status and trends; hatching success, fledging success and dispersal, and overall adult survivorship; regional threats to survival and productivity; the locations of important overwintering areas and the numbers of birds in those areas; as well as the amount of movement between breeding and wintering sites. Our Black Oystercatcher Monitoring Project keeps a close eye on our locally breeding oystercatchers from Point Lobos in the south, north to Pescadero State Beach in San Mateo County. These data will help to contribute to our understanding of this amazing shorebird species and inform policy related to the protection of the rocky intertidal habitat that they depend on.

Thanks to long time BLOY Monitor Stephanie Turcotte Edenholm for creating the BLOY SOS videos! You can watch a 4-minute version on our MAS YouTube channel as well.

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