Australian Pied Oystercatcher
- Medium shore birds with long skinny legs and a long beak.
- Black head and black with a white belly,
- Orange-red eyes
- Distinctive orange legs and beak.
- Size: 50cm
What to Observe
- Bird on nest
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
Australian pied oystercatchers nest on the upper parts of sandy beaches and are one of the main predators for pipis (marine bivalves) and beach invertebrates. This makes them vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise, storm surges and overuse by humans. Australian pied oystercatchers are listed as vulnerable by the NSW government and scientists are worried that their numbers are slowly decreasing in the wild.
When To Look
Throughout the year
Where To Look
- Mudflats, sandbanks and sandy ocean beaches
- They are often found in pairs
- Throughout Australia
Slater, P. Slater, P. and Slater, R. (1988). The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds. Lansdowne-Rigby Publishers NSW, Australia.
Sooty oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus), look similar to the pied oystercatcher, and can often co-occur on the same beach. The sooty oystercatcher lacks the white feathers and although their beaks and legs are dark red their bodies are completely black.
Did You Know?
A breeding pair typically reuses a nest site over many years and will rarely change its nesting area.
Oystercatchers are experts at catching sand worms that fisherman prize for bait.