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The Variable Oystercatcher (Haematopus unicolor) is a species of wader in the Haematopodidae family. It is endemic to New Zealand. The Maori name is torea-pango. They are also known as ‘red bills’ . They feed on molluscs, crabs and marine worms. After heavy rain, they sometimes go inland in search of earthworms. They can open a shellfish by either hammering a hole in it or getting the bill between the two shells (of a bivalve) and twisting them apart. They breed in North Island, South Island, Stewart Island, and Chatham Islands. They do not breed inland or beside rivers.
One amazing fact about this oystercatcher in particular is that it is the only oystercatcher that is polymorphic. Polymorphic meaning it has different genetic variants. This oystercatcher’s plumage can range in colour from pied to black. They are most often all black, but upon close inspection you will notice white specks on the underbelly, and white plumage under the wings. The variable oystercatcher feeds mostly on molluscs, worms, crabs and small sea insects. They are found all over New Zealand, except the outlying islands. The variable oystercatcher inhabits mainly the sandy or rocky coastlines and establishes this as its own territory. This species of bird is endemic to New Zealand, meaning it is not found anywhere else in the world. They are also considered to be a threatened species.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 Southland New Zealand Kaka Point
I have seen many of the Pied Oystercatchers roaming free in the paddocks in our rural village, yesterday I had my first sighting of the Variable Oystercatcher and managed to get a few captures to add to my project. Having done some research I note that they are considered to be a threatened spices. Please see my journal entry for more details.
An Enormous Project – Southland Birds
You Can’t See Me! – Variable Oysercatcher
Kaka Point – Southland New Zealand