What’s in a name?

Some animal names are an exactly accurate description of their physical appearance or perhaps a sound they make (e.g., Red-headed Woodpecker, or Black-capped Chickadee), and some names are fanciful and not at all representative of the animal’s characteristics (e.g., limpkin, bustard, potoo, or dickcissel).  But some names are misleading, and you have to wonder how the animal got that title,

and that’s the case for the Black Oystercatcher, an unusual black-feathered shorebird that lives along the intertidal shorelines of coastal North America, but doesn’t eat oysters.

Black Oystercatcher, Monterey Bay Aquarium

With its stout red chisel of a bill, yellow and red eye, and all black plumage, this medium -sized shorebird is easy to identify among the collection of shorebirds at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I was intrigued by both the bird’s supposed diet and its stout bill, which I assumed was used to open the shells of said oysters.  As it turns out, this bird is really good at finding and opening the shells of a variety of mollusks that are hiding in the intertidal area, as shown in the video below.  Stout legs and fleshy toes help grip slippery rocks as the bird makes its way in and out of tide pools.

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