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Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani


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Black Oystercatcher
credit: Alan D. Wilson/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Haematopodidae, Oystercatchers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has all-dark plumage, but in good light, brown wash can be discerned on back. Bill is red, legs are dull pink, and eye is yellow with a red surround. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but bill is dark-tipped and back feathers have pale margins.

Dimensions Length: 17-17 1/2" (43-44 cm)

Habitat Found on rocky shores and often nests on shingle beaches. However, human disturbance excludes it from many potentially suitable areas in breeding season.

Observation Tips Easy to find in suitable habitats.

Range California, Western Canada, Alaska, Northwest

Voice Utters are shrill, piping kweep.

Similar Species American Oystercatcher H. palliatus (L 17-19 in) occurs on Gulf coast and rarely in southern California. Has pied plumage and favors mudflats as well as rocky shores.

Discussion Robust and stocky shorebird. Entirely black plumage and bright red bill make it almost unmistakable. Feeds on intertidal invertebrates, using chisel-like bill to hammer mollusks from rocks and break their shells. Somewhat gregarious outside the breeding season. Sexes are similar.