Oystercatchers are birds we see all over the world. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. (See map below.)
Here on the western shores of North America, we have the Black Oystercatcher. They can be found foraging on seaside rocks and cliffs from Alaska to Baja California.
The other North American oystercatcher, the American Oystercatcher, can be found on the east, Gulf, and southern west coasts of the U.S., as well as some western coasts of Central and South America. The one photographed below we found on the Galapagos Islands, where they also reside.
There are 11 extant species of Haematopus in the world, visit this Wikipedia link to find the oystercatcher on your continent.
With black or black-and-white feathering, and a long, red or orange bill, they are almost always found near ocean habitat. They are all the same general shape and size, about 15-20 inches tall (39-50 cm).
This photo, below, has a nesting pair atop the biggest rock, they are little black smudges in the center of the photo. It demonstrates the preferred habitat. The next photo zooms in to this pair and their chicks.
Although they are named for catching oysters, oystercatchers also eat other mollusks like clams and mussels, limpets; as well as gastropods like snails and slugs. They use their strong, blade-like bill to pry open the mollusk shell, and sometimes for digging in the sand.
Oystercatchers are noisy birds, with a call that is scream-like. Click here to hear. The birds often blend into the rocks and you don’t know they are around…until you hear them scream.
Thanks for joining me on this oystercatcher trip around the world. I guess we could say the world is your oystercatcher.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander unless otherwise specified