We recently added two new species of oystercatcher to Birdorable: the Black Oystercatcher and the Eurasian Oystercatcher. These join our updated American Oystercatcher. Here are some interesting facts about this family of conspicuous, large shorebirds.
- There are 11 recognized species of Oystercatcher in the world still living today.
- One species of oystercatcher, the Canarian Oystercatcher, went extinct in the early 1900’s.
- Four oystercatcher species are found in the Americas:
Five oystercatcher species are found in Australia or New Zealand:
- Sooty Oystercatcher;
- Pied Oystercatcher;
- Variable Oystercatcher;
- Chatham Oystercatcher;
- and South Island Oystercatcher
The remaining two extant oystercatcher species are named for their ranges: Eurasian Oystercatcher and African Oystercatcher.
- Oystercatchers of all species have stocky shorebird bodies.
- Each species of oystercatcher has black feathers; a few species are black on top with white feathers underneath.
- All oystercatchers have large bills that are either bright orange or bright red.
- Oystercatchers do not subsist only on oysters. In fact, there is great variety in the diets of the different oystercatchers; each has a slightly different bill shape that dictates the foods in which is specializes.
- Oystercatchers nest in scrapes on the ground. Most nest at or near shore habitat.
- The Eurasian Oystercatcher is the lightest species with an average weight of 526 grams.
- The Sooty Oystercatcher is typically the heaviest of the oystercatchers, with an average weight of 833 grams
- Eurasian Oystercatchers are found in both coastal and inland habitats. This is unusual among oystercatcher species.
- The Eurasian Oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroe Islands.
- Variable Oystercatchers are so named because of plumage variations. They have black bodies with the front plumage varying from all-black to pied black-and-white.
- The South Island Oystercatcher, endemic to New Zealand, is also known as the South Island Pied Oystercatcher; its name is often shortened to SIPO.