Beach Access Issues
June 30, 2008

Attempt at banding results in American oystercatcher chick death

According to the National Park Service’s weekly resource management report, an American oystercatcher chick died on Sunday, June 22, during the routine banding of chicks on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

This incident is currently under review by management, the Park Service says.  Pending completion of the review, seashore Superintendent Mike Murray has suspended further banding operations. 

On June 22, an experienced bird bander from North Carolina State University, with the help of three Park Service employees, was on the beach banding pre-fledgling American oystercatcher chicks.  One chick, a member of a brood of three, died after a chase-and-capture of fewer than two minutes. The other chicks in the brood were banded and appeared to be unaffected upon release. 

Earlier the same day, five other American oystercatcher chicks had been successfully banded at three other locations.  American oystercatchers, both breeding adults and chicks close to fledging, are banded to aid in the monitoring of the species in their breeding range, which can help determine survival and recruitment into the population.  The fatality was the first documented in the banding of more than 207 chicks and 120 adults at both Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. 

The chick will be sent off for a necropsy to see if the cause of death can be determined.



The National Park Service has reviewed the banding incident of June 22 that resulted in the death of an American oystercatcher chick at Hatteras Inlet. The park has determined the researcher was properly credentialed and followed the appropriate techniques in attempting to capture and band the chick. The death was determined as accidental. Permission for the researcher to band oystercatchers has been reinstated, as the park believes the benefits of continued banding of these  birds on the seashore outweigh the risks.

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