Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)

The Pied Oystercatcher, Haematopus longirostris, is a species of oystercatcher. It is a wading bird native to Australia and commonly found on its coastline. The Pied Oystercatcher can also be found in New Zealand.

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Pied Oystercatcher

Pied Oystercatcher with oyster in his beak


The name “oystercatcher” is something of a misnomer because these birds rarely eat oysters, which are found mainly on rocky coastlines. Pied Oystercatchers frequent sandy coastline, where they feed mainly on bivalve mollusks, which are prised apart with their specially adapted bill.

This Australian variety is easily recognized by the characteristic 5–8 cm long orange-red beak, slender pink legs and black and white plumage. With the wings extended, a white wing stripe is also visible.

The male and female show little differentiation, except that the males generally sport a shorter, wider beak.

Pied Oystercatcher

Pied Oystercatcher Eggs

Diet / Feeding

Pied Oystercatchers feed mainly on bivalve mollusks, but also take other invertebrates. The techniques they use to break open the shells of the mollusks vary greatly and are thought to be learned behavior.

Nesting / Breeding

They nest in shallow scrapes made in open areas near the shore and produce 2-3 eggs in a typical clutch.

Each couple protects its nesting area and often uses the same area year after year.

Like the gulls they share the shore with, Oystercatchers will band together to mob a perceived threat.

Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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