Ask SIB – American Oystercatcher U5

One of our Facebook followers asked the question below:

Q: I found a photo of U5 that I took 8 years ago. How long do oystercatchers usually live?

Cindy Moore Johnson

A: We found this on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, All About Birds: 

“The oldest American Oystercatcher was at least 23 years, 10 months old. It had been banded as an adult in Virginia in 1989 and was found in Florida in 2012.”

As for U5, he is a popular blog subject for us. Two years ago we wrote:

“Just like the biologists, we can learn a lot from the approximately 60 resights in U5’s registry.  In December 2008, U5 was banded as an adult on Little Saint Simons Island, Georgia. According to SCDNR, he is 15 -16 years old, which is old for an American Oystercatcher!”

We all remember being so excited in 2021 when U5 & mate successfully fledged 2 chicks. Last year, they nested three times but lost their eggs to gulls & crows. Oystercatchers are formidable flyers and adversaries but their defenses can be overwhelmed by the coordinated attacks by groups of those predators especially when they are simultaneously defending their territory from other interloping pairs of oystercatchers. 

We are currently watching 3 pairs of oystercatchers who were on our beach last year as well: U5 & mate, EM & mate & a pair that is not banded. They are all trying to establish nesting territories now but unfortunately they only have half of the suitable habitat that they had last year. The current posted area is only large enough for one pair and the other pairs will be competing for whatever space is remaining. American Oystercatchers, while not officially listed as endangered or threatened, are listed as a species of concern. 

Please give these beautiful shorebirds space to rest, to nest & to eat. That means staying as far away as possible when walking on the beach. The signs are only a suggestion of the space they will need. This especially applies to photographers. Pushing in close to the signs to take a cellphone picture will only add further stress to the birds. They have stress enough now while competing with the other pairs!

If you are interested in becoming a Shorebird Steward, send us an email ( and we’ll schedule personalized training that works for you.

To learn more about American Oystercatchers, below are a few of the blogs we’ve published.

– Mark Andrews, Seabrook Island Shorebird Steward Program

2 thoughts on “Ask SIB – American Oystercatcher U5”

  1. It was very nice meeting you this morning. Thank you for all of the great information and knowledge that you shared with my wife and I. Hope to see you again out there. Chuck and Jackie Wallace


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