South Island Pied Oystercatcher

The South Island Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus finschi) is a species of bird that is found in New Zealand. It is one of two species of oystercatchers found there. This bird breeds inland on the South Island, after which most of the population moves to estuaries and harbors on the North Island. It is an occasional vagrant on Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island and the eastern coast of mainland Australia. Its breeding habitat consists of braided river systems, open paddocks and cultivated land, lake beaches, sub-alpine tundra and herb fields. The non-breeding habitat includes coastal estuaries, bays, beaches, sandflats and intertidal mudflats.

This bird is readily identifiable with striking black and white plumage, long red-orange bill and red legs. It has a white lower back, white wings and line of black of white on the breast further down. Its bill is long. The adult South Island Pied Oystercatcher is 18 inches long with a wingspan of 31.5 to 33.75 inches. It weighs approximately 19.5 ounces. Its call is a loud piping, used both socially and aggressively. It also has a piercing alarm call and a quiet flight call.

The nest is a sand scrape on farmland or gravel banks on braided rivers. The female usually lays 2 or 3 brown eggs that are blotched dark and pale brown. Incubation lasts 24 to 28 days, with both sexes incubating. The young are precocial (able to move about freely after birth) and fledge 6 weeks after hatching. Total population of this species is estimated at 110,000 individuals. It is evaluated as Least Concern.

The South Island Pied Oystercatcher has been often contracted to the acronym SIPO (to rhyme with “typo”).

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