Yesterday, the woman who works for the Park Department in this little town told me about an American Oystercatcher that was nesting near the Bay. Natalie cares for two small parks, both of which border Boca Ciega Bay. The pair of Oystercatchers had bred in the same place for the last several years. When she offered to show me where the bird is nesting, I jumped at the chance. We walked to a building down the street, took the elevator up to the eighth floor, then I pointed my camera directly across the street. I took a photo of the Oystercatcher on her nest which is located on the top of a building. The photo shows what I saw – a dot. Then, Natalie handed me her field glasses and I was able to see the Oystercatcher. “Too bad we can’t see the nest,” I said. Natalie told me that the birds lay their eggs in gravel on the tops of buildings. The female sits on the nest and her mate dives into the Bay, finding her small fish. Since the male had not been seen for a week, Natalie said she was worried that the female would not survive. As I was about to say that the male might have appeared at different times during the day, Natalie said she checked at various times each day and reiterated that she had seen the male regularly until the last several days. I was saddened knowing without him feeding the female, both she and the eggs if she survived long enough for them to hatch, would die.
In the past, my online birdwatching friends and I have discussed how watching one bird devour another is very sad, although we know this is a natural part of nature. Should the male Oystercatcher fail to return and feed his mate, which seems likely, it is probably because he is unable to. In that case, it is reasonable to deduce he has perished although the manner is unknown. Yesterday, seeing the female Oystercatcher sitting on her eggs as she waits for the fish that may never arrive, I learned another way that Nature both runs its course and can be cruel at the same time. Below, a photo of another pair of Oystercatchers which was taken by the same Bay in February, 2012.