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Bird name:


Haematopus ostralegus




Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Marshes, saltwater, Islands, grassy, Beaches, sandy or shingle, Sand dunes

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Bigamous

Egg Colour:

Smooth, glossy and buff, yellowish or greyish, with regular dark specks, spots or blotches.

Number of Eggs:

1 - 4

Incubation Days:

24 - 27

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

A shallow scrape on the ground.

Nest Location:

Often on raised earth banks in the open or in short vegetation on cultivated or uncultivated land, cliff-tops, rocky outcrops or clearings in taller vegetation including woods and moorland.


Some migrate


Oystercatcher: Stocky, pigeon-sized shorebird with long, straight, red bill. Black head, breast, and wings. Underparts, rump, and lower back white. Wings have prominent white stripe, white tail has black tip. Red-pink legs and red eye with orange eye ring. Bill flattened vertically for opening shells of mollusks. Sexes similar. Winter adults like summer birds but with narrow, white band on throat, and pink legs and feet. Young birds like adults but with brown-black upperparts, grey-pink legs, and red bill with dark grey tip.

Range and Habitat

Oystercatcher: Resident breeder and winter visitor in the UK and Ireland. Resident birds can be seen year round along coastlines. During winter months birds from Norway join residents along the east coasts of England and Scotland. Birds can be found at beaches, mudflats, lakes and ponds, and on estuaries. Increasingly seen inland.

Breeding and Nesting

Oystercatcher: Pair-bond often lifelong, but males may be bigamist. Pairs often return to same breeding territory year after year. Both parents build nest, which is a shallow scrape on bare ground, often without lining. Both parents incubate eggs and care for young, though female is main incubator.

Foraging and Feeding

Oystercatcher: Along sandy, muddy and rocky beaches it feeds on bivalves like mussels and cockles. Some peck at the shell to break it open and some pry it open. When young or inland it will eat worms also


Oystercatcher: A sharp "kleep" or "klee-eap," also a soft "weep." A "ke-beep ke-beep ke-beep kwirrrrrr ee-beep ee-beep ee-beep" when displaying. In alarm utters a sharp "kip" or "pick."

Similar Species

Oystercatcher: Black-winged Stilt has a white breast and neck, much longer legs, black underwings, and a thin, very pointed black bill. Avocet has much more white, is more slender and elegant, and has a long, upcurved black bill.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
Eye ringX
The circle around the eye formed of feathers that are a different color from the rest of the face.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX