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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 5:48 EDT

Pied Oystercatcher

The Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris) is a species of wading bird found commonly along the coastline of Australia. They prefer sandy coasts, where they feed on bivalve mollusks and other invertebrates. Despite its name, they rarely eat oysters, which are found mainly on rocky coastlines.

This bird is easily identifiable by its characteristic 2 to 3 inch long orange-red beak, slender pink legs, and black and white plumage. When the wings are extended, a white wing-stripe is visible. Sexes are very similar, except that males generally have a shorter, wider beak. Techniques the birds use to break open the shells of mollusks vary greatly and are thought to be learned behavior.

The nest is a shallow scrape in an open area near the shore. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs. Both parents protect the nesting area and often return to the same nest year after year. Oystercatchers will band together and mob a perceived threat.

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Pied Oystercatcher