Hybrid American-Black Oystercatcher

Haematopus palliatus x bachmani
Range Map

Along about 300 miles of the Pacific coast of Baja California, where the ranges of Black Oystercatchers and American Oystercatchers overlap, hybridization will occur. Looking more like the American Oystercatcher than the Black, the black head and neck feathers “dripping” onto the white breast of the hybrid birds can separate them from the clean bib of the pure American Oystercatchers.

The early 20th century saw these birds nearly collected to death and extirpated from the region. Gradually, the populations seem to have recovered and stabilized. Now these birds are more common again.

These mixed gene birds occasionally wander through the San Diego coastlines, and further north. I met them along the Pacific coast of central Baja California while on a seagoing science expedition to the Revillagigedo Archipelagos in February 2017.


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