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Oystercatcher

The Oystercatchers are a group of waders that form the family Haematopodidae, which has a single genus, Haematopus. They are large obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prying open mollusks.

In some species, the bill shape varies according to the diet. Those birds with blade-like bill tips pry open or smash mollusk shells, and those with pointed bill tips tend to probe for worms.

They are found on coasts worldwide apart from the polar regions. They are all-black, black and white or brown and white in appearance.

Their eggs are laid in a shallow scrape on shingle. Oystercatcher eggs are grey and speckled, providing camouflage against the grey rock background. They are pointed at one end. Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of this is not to provide space for the chick’s long beaks (their long beaks develop after hatching). The pointed shape is thought to prevent the eggs from rolling down a steep slope.

Oystercatcher


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