Oregon Black Oystercatcher Project

North, Central, and South Coast | May – August

The Black Oystercatcher is a unique shorebird species that is a conspicuous and charismatic bird of the coast. Because of their small global population size, low reproductive rate, and reliance on rocky intertidal habitats, they are considered a “species of high conservation concern” and act as an indicator of intertidal ecosystem health.

Portland Audubon is monitoring Black Oystercatchers to provide new information on this species biology including an Oregon-wide population estimate, nesting success, and human disturbance factors.

These efforts are informing better protection for this species and is also an important part of our work to secure better protections for Oregon’s iconic rocky shoreline habitat and Oregon’s marine reserves and protected areas. A critical part of this project is engagement and outreach to local communities up and down the coast.

Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of Cape Falcon, Haystack Rock Awareness Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Friends of Haystack Rock, Audubon Society of Lincoln City, Cape Arago Audubon Society, Kalmiopsis Audubon Society

Black Oystercatcher, photo by Scott Carpenter

About the Survey

  • Survey instructions: You can participate in the abundance surveys and/or nest monitoring. Please read the appropriate protocols for detailed instructions.
    • Abundance survey: Walk along a designated area of the coast and count all oystercatchers observed.
    • Nest monitoring: Observe active nests to determine if nests are successful (eggs hatch and young leave nest)
  • When: Abundance surveys conducted during a 3-week period each May. Nest monitoring is conducted from May through August.
  • Where: 75 sites up and down the coast, from Brookings to Seaside
  • Time Commitment: Abundance surveys: minimum of 2 surveys that take 1-3 hours. Nest monitoring weekly.
  • Reporting: Enter your data on a data sheet while at the site (links below) and afterward enter into the appropriate online database (links below)


Volunteer Requirements

  • Trainings: We provide non-mandatory in-person trainings on the North, Central, and South coast in late April and early May. We will alert you to training dates after you sign up.
  • Birding skills: No experience required but you must have good vision and hearing. Black Oystercatchers are easy to identify!
  • Equipment: You must have your own pair of binoculars and, ideally, a spotting scope. Site maps are provided.
  • Field conditions: Expect surfaces varying from sand beaches and well-maintained trails to steep, overgrown slopes made slippery by weather or loose rock. Some survey routes may include creek crossings.
  • Transportation to and from the survey site(s) is your responsibility.


If you have any questions about this project contact Joe Liebezeit, Staff Scientist at 971-222-6121, or jliebezeit@audubonportland.org).

Other Resources and Related Projects