Three statewide surveys in South Carolina for American Oystercatchers, Haematopus palliatus, were conducted during the breeding season from 2001-2003. A mean of 1,105 oystercatchers were recorded each year. In 2002, 407 breeding pairs were documented and in 2003, 397 pairs. There were 378 nonbreeding oystercatchers in 2002 and 383 in 2003. The Cape Romain Region supported a majority of South Carolina’s breeding pairs and nonbreeding flocks. Oystercatchers nested, on average, closer to each other on estuarine islands, (specifically made of shell) and farthest apart on edge shell mounds. Although historically oystercatchers may have nested primarily on front beaches, this study documented only 28% of the breeding pairs on barrier island beaches, 27% on estuarine islands and 45% on edge shell mounds. Twenty-four percent of all pairs in South Carolina were on edge shell mounds adjacent to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW). Nesting on shell mounds may become increasingly important as beaches become more disturbed by humans and dogs.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2