Australian Pied Oystercatcher

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Habitat: Coastal, Island


The Australian Pied Oystercatcher inhabits mudflats, sandbanks, sandy ocean beaches, and less often along rocky or shingle coasts. It is seldom recorded far from the coast.


The Australian Pied Oystercatcher seldom allows a close approach and is readily disturbed by people. They typically probe the sand or mud with their long bills to reach sandworms, molluscs or crabs, sometimes hammering at their shells after retrieving them. They roost at high tide, sometimes with other species, such as gulls, cormorants, waterfowl and other waders.



Australian Pied Oystercatchers often feed on bivalve molluscs, which are hammered or prised apart with their chisel-shaped bills. They also eat worms, crustaceans and insects. Food is found either by probing the mud with their long bill, or by foraging by sight. The Australian Pied Oystercatcher is one of the few waders whose young are fed by their parents. Large items such as crabs are broken up and then poked into the young bird’s bill.


The Australian Pied Oystercatcher breeds in pairs, within a breeding territory that is defended by both birds. Breeding occurs from September to December in southern Australia, but starts as early as June further north. Two or three eggs are laid in a scrape in the sand, shell grit or shingle above the high-water mark on beaches, sandbars and the margins of estuaries and lagoons. The eggs are well-camouflaged, being pale brown with darker brown and black blotches and streaks. Incubation, by both sexes, lasts for 28 days, and both share parenting duties.