Surveys of the American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) were conducted in all suitable nesting habitat in coastal Virginia, USA during the 2003 breeding season. The total of 588 pairs more than doubles previous estimates for the state, and provides a benchmark for the comparison of future surveys. These results suggest that Virginia supports the largest number of oystercatchers in the breeding season relative to other east coast states. Previous surveys in Virginia focused only on one coastal area, the barrier islands. Over two hundred pairs recorded in the seaside lagoon system of the Delmarva Peninsula in 2003 accounted for the large discrepancy between previous estimates for the state and the results of this survey. Over 89% of the total number of pairs was observed on the islands and in the lagoon system of the Delmarva Peninsula. Approximately 87% of the pairs were on land that is managed or regulated to some degree for the conservation of nesting birds by federal, state, municipal and non-governmental organizations, including 20% that occurred on land closed to public use during the bird-breeding season. Only 13% of the pairs were on land that affords no protection to breeding birds.
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Vol. 28 • No. 3