Birdorable Black Oystercatcher

Fun Oystercatcher Facts

January 19th, 2012 in Fun Facts, New Birds, Oystercatchers 47 comments
Birdorable Oystercatchers on the beach

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.

  1. There are 11 recognized species of Oystercatcher in the world still living today.
  2. One species of oystercatcher, the Canarian Oystercatcher, went extinct in the early 1900's.
  3. 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. 
  4. Oystercatchers of all species have stocky shorebird bodies. 
  5. Each species of oystercatcher has black feathers; a few species are black on top with white feathers underneath. 
  6. All oystercatchers have large bills that are either bright orange or bright red. 
  7. 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. 
  8. Oystercatchers nest in scrapes on the ground. Most nest at or near shore habitat. 
  9. The Eurasian Oystercatcher is the lightest species with an average weight of 526 grams. 
  10. The Sooty Oystercatcher is typically the heaviest of the oystercatchers, with an average weight of 833 grams 
  11. Eurasian Oystercatchers are found in both coastal and inland habitats. This is unusual among oystercatcher species. 
  12. The Eurasian Oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroe Islands. 
  13. 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. 
  14. The South Island Oystercatcher, endemic to New Zealand, is also known as the South Island Pied Oystercatcher; its name is often shortened to SIPO.