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.
Above Images Are From The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service