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Black Oystercatcher

ID Info
Silhouette ShorebirdsShorebirds
Black OystercatcherHaematopus bachmani
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Haematopodidae

Basic Description

Among the mussel- and barnacle-covered rocks of the Pacific Coast lives this stout shorebird with a gleaming reddish bill, yellow eyes, and pink legs. Apart from these highlights, their dark bodies—black on the head and neck, chocolate brown elsewhere—disappear into the dark rocky background. Look for them foraging on falling tides, when exposed marine organisms are vulnerable to quick strikes from their sharp, stout bills. Oystercatchers remain paired year-round, and often fly in duets over water and shore giving their pleasant whistling calls.

More ID Info
image of range map for Black Oystercatcher
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Black Oystercatchers are fairly easy to find along rocky shores, jetties, and breakwaters. Look for shores that slope gently into the water or flat rocky reefs. They avoid cliffs and tall headlands, but are often seen walking directly on beds of mussels exposed by low tides. A spotting scope can be useful to appreciate these birds, which often flush if approached too closely. Also listen for their high, rising whistled calls, often given in flight with shallow, fluttering wings.

Other Names

  • Ostrero Negro Norteamericano (Spanish)
  • Huîtrier de Bachman (French)
  • Cool Facts