The American Oystercatcher (<em>Haematopus palliatus</em>) in the northern Bahamas

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James A. Kushlan
Catherine Hickey
Anthony W. White

Keywords

Abstract

Abstract: The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is known to nest sparingly in the Caribbean into the southern and central Bahamas. However, details of its Caribbean breeding distribution, including that in the northern Bahamas, remain unclear. This study documented the oystercatcher’s previously unappreciated status as a breeding resident in the northern Bahamas and also confirmed breeding in the Exumas of the central Bahamas. The presently known breeding distribution in the Bahamas excludes the extreme northwestern islands, creating a distributional gap between the population in North American and that of the Bahamas. Intriguingly, the gap appears to correspond to the path of direct influence of the Florida Current (Gulf Stream). Birds found in this study during the summer breeding season in the northern Bahamas were only on rocky shores, and nests similarly were placed above rocky shorelines. In its predilection for rocky shores, the population appears similar to oystercatchers in the West Indies and dissimilar to those in Florida. If birds nesting in the Bahamas population are considered part of the Caribbean population, total numbers there would constitute a significant portion of the currently estimated regional total. Bahamian oystercatchers were once considered their own subspecies based on bill size differences. Additional study of the taxonomy, food habits, habitat use, and more details on breeding distribution is desirable. However, current understanding of morphological and habitat differences as well as the distributional gap from the North American population suggest that the Bahamas population deserves explicit attention in conservation planning.  


Key words: Abaco, American Oystercatcher, Berry Islands, breeding range, conservation, distribution, Exumas, Florida, Florida Current, Grand Bahama, Gulf Stream, Haematopus palliatus


Resumen: El Ostrero (Haematopus palliatus) en la región norte de Bahamas- Se conoce que pequeñas cantidades de Ostrero (Haematopus palliatus) crían en en las regiones sur y central de Bahamas. Sin embargo, permanecen sin esclarecer detalles sobre la distribución de las áreas reproductivas en el Caribe, incluyendo el norte de Bahamas. Este estudio documenta el estado del Ostrero como residente de cría en el norte de Bahamas y también confirma la cría en las Exumas de las Bahamas centrales. La distribución reproductiva actualmente conocida en Bahamas excluye las islas noroccidentales más extremas, creando un espacio de distribución entre la población de Norteamérica y la de Bahamas. Intrigantemente, el espacio parece corresponder al paso de la influencia directa de la Corriente de la Florida (Corriente del Golfo). Las aves encontradas en este estudio durante la etapa reproductiva de verano en Bahamas del norte estuvieron solamente en costas de roca y similarmente, los nidos estuvieron ubicados sobre orillas rocosas. La predilección por orillas rocosas hace a la población similar a la de ostreros de las Antillas y diferente a las de Florida. Si las aves que crían en la población de Bahamas son consideradas parte de la población caribeña, los valores totales constituirían una porción significativa al estimado total regional. Los ostreros bahamenses fueron considerados una subespecie basado en diferencias en el tamaño del pico. Son convenientes estudios adicionales de taxonomía, hábitos alimentarios, uso de hábitat y más detalles sobre la distribución de cría. Sin embargo, el conocimiento actual de la morfología y las diferencias de hábitat así como el espacio en la distribución de las poblaciones de Norteamérica sugiere que la población de Bahamas merece una atención explícita en la planificación de conservación.


Palabras clave: Abaco, Ostrero, Islas Berry, rango de cría, conservación, distribución, Exumas, Florida, Corriente de la Florida, Gran Bahama, Corriente del Golfo, Haematopus palliatus


Résumé: L’Huitrier d’Amerique (Haematopus palliatus) dans le nord des Bahamas- L’Huîtrier d’Amérique (Haematopus palliatus) est connu pour nicher sporadiquement dans la Caraïbe jusqu’au sud et au centre des Bahamas. Toutefois les informations sur son aire de reproduction y compris dans le nord des Bahamas restent imprécises. Cette étude traite du statut encore peu connu de l’huitrier comme espèce sédentaire nicheuse du nord des Bahamas. Elle confirme également sa nidification dans les Exumas au centre des Bahamas. L’aire de nidification actuellement connue aux Bahamas exclut les îles de l’extrême nord-ouest, créant une discontinuité entre la population nord-américaine et celle des Bahamas. Curieusement, celle-ci semble correspondre à la zone l’influence directe du courant de Floride (Gulf Stream). Les oiseaux observés dans le cadre de cette étude pendant la saison de nidification estivale au nord des Bahamas ont été observés seulement sur des rivages rocheux et les nids étaient placés sur le haut des rochers de la rive. Par cette préférence pour les milieux rocheux, la population semblait similaire à celle des Antilles et différente de celle de Floride. Si les oiseaux nicheurs des Bahamas étaient considérés comme faisant partie de la population caribéenne, les effectifs présents représenteraient une proportion significative du total régional actuellement estimé. Les huitriers des Bahamas ont déjà été considérés comme une sous-espèce distincte en fonction des différences de taille du bec. Une étude complémentaire portant sur la taxonomie, les habitudes alimentaires et l’aire de reproduction précise est souhaitable. Toutefois, les connaissances actuelles sur les différences morphologiques et l’habitat ainsi que sur la discontinuité de la répartition par rapport à la population nord-américaine suggèrent que la population des Bahamas mérite une attention particulière dans la planification de la conservation. 


Mots clés: Abaco, aire de reproduction, conservation, courant de Floride, distribution, Exumas, Floride, Grand Bahama, Gulf Stream, Haematopus palliatus, Huîtrier d'Amérique, îles Berry  


 

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