We live near a remote beach on the south coast of NSW, Australia. One of our precious visitors is the Pied Oystercatcher, a large attractive black and white shore bird with a stunning red bill. Before Europeans came to Australia these birds were plentiful, protected by the moiety system of totems followed by the aboriginal people. Members of each skin group must always protect and never eat their totem birds and animals. However since the spread of Europeans along the coast the Pied Oystercatcher has lost habitat, and is threatened by development, and dogs, cats, and foxes. It is now listed as an endangered species.
Oystercatchers feed on bivalve molluscs, the ones we call Pippies. I love to see the open shells along the beach, where the bird has used its long beak to dig up the mollusc, prise the shell open and feed on the juicy creature. There are only 50 breeding pairs of Pied Oystercatchers on the South Coast now, and few safe breeding spots. They cant breed on our beach because people disregard the no dogs sign, and even this afternoon I saw a young kelpie with some teenagers chasing a pair away from the eastern end of the beach. Even if dogs were kept away there are always foxes and feral cats to steal the chicks. Perhaps there is more we could do here to help them survive, maybe I should contact National Parks and get involved?
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