Identifying Haematopus

Concerning southern Californian oystercatchers, what is a way to visually separate H. p. frazari from the hybrid between H. palliatus frazari and H. bachmani? From my understanding, frazari has limited mottling in the undertail coverts and the lower breast. However, I’ve seen some observations on iNat with this description identified as the aforementioned hybrid.

I generally agree that some birders in California, especially SoCal, are a little quick to jump on the AMOY train when they see an Oystercatcher with extensive white. If memory serves, there was one in San Diego last spring or fall that got a lot of people hot under the collar but may have been a hybrid- I didn’t follow it very closely though.

My understanding, which is decidedly NOT expert, is that the Jehl (1985) key is the “gold standard” at the moment. However, as is pointed out here and here it might not be a catch-all solution.

I think the take-home here is: be cautious and do some extra homework. You can usually also look up eBird sightings to see if a local reviewer has accepted the record and see on what basis the bird was called AMOY. In this case, you can’t look up CBRC records for the sightings now since the species appears to be off the review list (somewhat unfortunate since CBRC-accepted records tend to be REALLY well-documented).

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