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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

With its bright orange bill and loud piping call, the Eurasian oystercatcher is one of the most conspicuous waders on European shores. Often seen in small parties, it feeds on mussels, limpets, and other mollusks, using its bill to smash or pry apart their shells. To locate good feeding sites, the Eurasian oystercatcher often flies along the tideline, calling loudly to other oystercatchers. On coasts, it nests on shingle and gravel, laying two to four camouflaged eggs. The Eurasian oystercatcher is one of 11 species of oystercatchers (family Haematopodidae). All have the same overall shape and brightly colored bills, but in some species, the plumage is totally black.

Eurasian Oystercatcherzoom image
  • Order Charadriiformes
  • Length 15–19 in (40–48 cm)
  • Weight 14–28 oz (400–800 g)
  • Habitat Rocky shores, damp inland habitats
  • Distribution Iceland, Europe, N. and E. Asia, (breeding); S. Europe, Africa, S. Asia (non-breeding)
Eurasian Oystercatcher habitat mapzoom image