Common Pied Oystercatcher
|Common Pied Oystercatcher|
The Common Pied Oystercatcher, or in Europe just Oystercatcher is a wader in the family Oystercatcher 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 bills 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.