The Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) is an intertidal obligate along North America's Pacific coast and a species of high conservation concern (population size 8900–11 000 individuals). Understanding birds' movements and space use throughout the annual cycle has become paramount in the face of changing environmental conditions, and intertidal species may be particularly vulnerable to habitat change due to anticipated sea-level rise associated with climate change and increasing coastal development. Conservation of the Black Oystercatcher is hindered by a lack of information on the species' nonbreeding distribution, seasonal movements, and habitat connectivity. Using satellite (n = 19) and VHF (n = 19) radio transmitters, we tracked Black Oystercatchers from five breeding sites (Vancouver Island, British Columbia; Kodiak Island, Prince William Sound, Middleton Island, and Juneau, Alaska) through one and one half annual cycles (May 2007–Dec 2008). We documented medium- to long-distance migration (range of migration distance 130–1667 km) in three populations (Prince William Sound, Middleton Island, and Juneau) and year-round residency in two others (Kodiak and Vancouver Island). We observed variation in the timing and length of migration by study site, and individual birds demonstrated fidelity to breeding and nonbreeding sites. We did not observe strong migratory connectivity. Migratory oystercatchers distributed themselves widely along the coasts of British Columbia and southeast Alaska during winter. Results provide baseline information on the Black Oystercatcher's movements and space use throughout the annual cycle.
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Vol. 112 • No. 4