Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Pied Oystercatchers

Pied Oystercatchers on a WA beach
Pied Oystercatchers are busy little birds on the shore, always scurrying around looking for food.

They are found in coastal areas throughout Australian except for areas of unbroken sea cliffs such as the Great Australian Bight. Pied Oystercatchers have probably declined throughout much of their range and the current population may be as low as 10,000. Closely related forms are found in almost every continent in the world.

They feed on bivalve molluscs, which are prised apart with their specially adapted bills. Food is found by sight, or by probing their long, chisel-shaped bills in the mud/sand. Young Pied Oystercatchers are one of the few waders that are fed by their parents using this specialised feeding technique. Worms, crustaceans and insects are also eaten.

Nesting site on Seven Mile Beach, Oct 2013

They breed in pairs. A breeding territory of some 200 m is formed and is defended by both birds. On our beach here on south coast NSW, a fence is put up around their nesting site to keep people and their dogs away from the nests hoping the young will hatch and make it. In recent years, they haven't had much success with fox/dog attacks, high tides sweeping the nest away, or other disasters. This year, their nest is way above the tide line and I hope that might help them.

Pied Oystercatcher in flight. Seven Mile Beach, October 2013
Nesting takes place on sand, shell grit or shingle just above high water mark on beaches, sandbars, margins of estuaries and lagoons. The eggs are well-camouflaged, being pale brown with darker brown and black blotches and streaks. Both sexes share parenting duties.

If you want some more information, Birds in Backyards has a little more, but was the source of some of this material.


  1. I know these guys. They are busy little things!

    1. They sure are busy! Glad you know them. They're cute, huh.

      Cate xo