Eurasian Oystercatcher

The Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) sometimes known as the Common Pied Oystercatcher, is a species of wading bird in the family Haematopodidae. It is found in western Europe, central Eurasia, Kamchatka, China, and the western coast of Korea. It has the most widespread range of all oystercatchers and no other species of oystercatcher occur within its range. It is migratory over most of its range. Although it resides year round in Ireland, Great Britain and the adjacent European coasts, it still has some seasonal movement. Outside the breeding season, the Eurasian Oystercatcher is highly sociable with other species of birds.

These are large and noisy plover-like birds with black and white plumage. They have red legs and strong broad red bills used for smashing or prying open mollusks or for finding earthworms. Despite its name, oysters are not a typical part of its diet, but very few other wading birds are capable of opening oysters at all. The shape of the bill varies and birds with a broad bill tend to pry open mollusks or hammer through the shell. Birds with a more pointed bill tend to dig up worms. When birds move inland to breed, their bill shape changes from flat to pointed. They are unmistakable in flight. They show white patches in the wings and tail. The upperparts are black, and the underparts white. Juveniles are browner, have a white neck collar, and duller bill. The call is a unique loud piping.

The nest is a bare scrape on pebbles, either on coast or on inland graveled islands. The female lays 2 to 4 eggs. The eggs and the young are highly cryptic and well camouflaged against predators.

The Oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroe Islands.

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