Common Pied Oystercatcher

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Common Pied Oystercatcher
Common Pied Oystercatcher
Common Pied Oystercatcher
Scientific classification
Species:H. ostralegus
Binomial name
Haematopus ostralegus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Common Pied Oystercatcher, or in Europe just Oystercatcher is a wader in the Oystercatcher bird family Haematopodidae. It is the most widespread of the oystercatchers, with three races breeding in western Europe, central Eurasia, and Kamchatka and China. No other oystercatcher occurs within this area.

This is a migratory species over most of its range, wintering in north Africa, southern most Europe and south Asia. It is present all year in Ireland, Great Britain and the adjacent European coasts. It is highly gregarious outside the breeding season.

These are large obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with black and white plumage, red legs and strong broad red bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs such as mussels or for finding earthworms.

The bill shape varies; oystercatchers with broad bill tips open molluscs by prising them apart or hammering through the shell, whereas pointed-bill birds dig up worms.

This oystercatcher is unmistakable in flight, with white patches in the wings and tail, otherwise black upperparts, and white underparts. Young birds are browner, have a white neck collar, and a duller bill. The call is a distinctive loud piping.

The nest is a bare scrape on pebbles, on the coast or on inland gravelly islands. 2-4 eggs are laid.

Because of its large numbers and readily identified behaviour, the Oystercatcher is an important indicator species for the health of the ecosystems where it congregates. Extensive long-term studies have been carried out on its foraging behaviour, in northern Germany, in the Netherlands and particularly on the River Exe estuary in south-west England, and these form an important part of the foundation of the modern discipline of behavioural ecology.

The Oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroe Islands.

Missing image
A 1977 stamp from the Faroe Islands depicting the Tjaldur

da:Strandskade de:Austernfischer (Art) fo:Tjaldur fy:Strnljip ja:ミヤコドリ nl:Scholekster pl:Ostrygojad fi:Meriharakka sv:Strandskata


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