Oystercatcher

Scientific name: Haematopus ostralegus

Did you know: Oystercatchers, despite what they’re called, rarely feast on oysters. Their preferred menu includes mussels, cockles, and other bivalves!

What Do Oystercatchers Look Like? (how to identify them)

Oystercatchers are striking wading birds, easily identified by their black and white plumage, bright orange and red bill, and red-pink legs. When flying, they display a wide white wing, black tail, and white rump extending into a ‘V’ between their wings.

Differences Between Male And Female Oystercatchers

While males and females are similar in appearance, females typically have slightly longer bills and are heavier than their male counterparts.

What Do Oystercatchers Eat?

Oystercatchers primarily dine on mussels and cockles along the coast and switch to earthworms and insects when inland.

Where Do Oystercatchers Live? (inc. migration info)

Oystercatchers breed along almost all coasts in the UK and increasingly inland. During winter, most stay along the coast, supplemented by visitors from Norway. Their adaptable habitat range includes upland areas, marine and intertidal zones, farmlands, wetlands, and grasslands.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Oystercatchers)

Oystercatchers are known for their loud, piping calls, which are particularly prominent during their breeding season and play a crucial role in their territorial and mating behaviours.

Fun Oystercatcher Facts (kid friendly)

  • Oystercatchers can live for up to 40 years!
  • They use their strong, bright bills to skillfully open shellfish.
  • These birds are often seen walking along the shore, looking for food.
  • Oystercatchers can fly at speeds of up to 40 mph.
  • They lay 2-3 eggs, which are camouflaged to blend in with the ground.
  • During the breeding season, they perform dramatic aerial displays.
  • Oystercatchers’ chicks can walk and feed themselves shortly after hatching.
  • They are social birds, often found in large, noisy flocks.
  • In winter, they can form roosts of thousands on coastal mudflats.
  • The Oystercatcher’s loud call sounds like ‘kleep-kleep.’

Oystercatcher Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Oystercatcher

Diet: Mussels and cockles on the coast, mainly worms inland.
Bird Family: Oystercatchers
Length: 40-45cm
Wingspan: 80-86cm
Weight: 430-650g
Scientific Name: Haematopus ostralegus

The Oystercatcher Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December