Eurasian oystercatcher

(Haematopus ostralegus)


Eurasian oystercatcher IUCN NEAR THREATENED (NT)


Facts about this animal

The Eurasian oystercatcher is a sturdily built wader with a total length of 40 to 47 cm nd a body-weight of 425 to 820 g. It is characterized by a bold pied pattern: it has a black head and upper side, and is white underneath. The long bill is bright red and it has pink legs. The sexes are alike in appearance, but males have a blunter, shorter and more robust bill than the females.

The nest is a shallow scrape in sand or among shells, sometimes the eggs are laid on bare rock. A clutch consists usually of 2 eggs, which are incubated for 27 to 39 days. The chicks are cryptically coloured, grey with black dorsal and femoral stripes. They fledge at the age of 35-40 days.

Eurasian oystercatchers feed on mussels, crabs, earth worms and all kind of other invertebrates, rarely on fish.

Did you know?
that despite the name, oysters do not form a large part of its diet, but few if any other wading birds are capable of opening oysters at all? Oystercatcher prefer mussels, cockles, worms, limpets and crabs.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Haematopus ostralegus
Name (English) Eurasian oystercatcher
Name (French) Huîtrier pie
Name (German) Austernfischer
Name (Spanish) Ostrero
Local names Afrikaans: Bont oestervanger
Danish: Strandskade
Dutch: Scholekster
Finnish: Meriharakka
Hungarian: Csigaforgató
Italian: Beccaccia di mare
Romansh: Austrel
Norwegian: Tjeld
Polish: Ostrygojad
Swedish: Strandskata
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Bjørn Christian Tørrissen



Range Asia: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, , Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea DPR, Korea Rep., Kuwait, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen. Vagrants in Jordan, Lebanon, Maldives, Philippines, Syria, Africa: Algeria, Cape Verde, , Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, , Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Western Sahara. Vagrants in Angola, Congo DR, Ethiopia, Gabon, Liberia, Mali, Seychelles, Togo, Uganda Europe: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia former Yug. Rep., Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom. Vagrants in Luxembourg, Slovenia, North America: Canada, United States
Habitat Sandy sites on islands, spits and big rivers, sea coasts and estuaries.
Wild population The global population is estimated to be between 1,100,000–1,200,000 individuals (IUCN)
Zoo population 113 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Eurasian oystercatcher


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 13 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
John Haslam

Why do zoos keep this animal

Eurasian oystercatchers are not a threatened species. Zoos keep them for educational purposes and as an ambassador species for marine and coastal conservation.