The Atlantic coast population of the American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates) has seen mixed success in its recovery from historic lows at the turn of the 20th century. During the mid-1980s, breeding numbers in Maryland were estimated at 50-75 pairs based on incidental observations and the results of the state’s first breeding bird atlas project. With growing national and regional concern for the species and a need for current information on its status in Maryland, the state’s first comprehensive survey of nesting oystercatchers was conducted during the 2003 breeding season. Both hatching success and fledging success were relatively high, with some breeding birds nesting in areas where they were not previously found in the state. Most oystercatchers nested on salt marsh islands, as opposed to the extensive barrier island found along Maryland’s coast. Although a similar number of birds nested in the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bays, nest success was significantly greater in the Chesapeake Bay. Landscape type proved to be the only variable that was significantly associated with statewide nest success, though it did not explain the differences in success between Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bay birds. Several existing and potential threats require consideration in future studies and management of this species.
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Vol. 29 • No. 3