Sooty Oystercatchers

Trish Meyer

Denhams Beach, Australia

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Photographed at Denhams Beach on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia.

The Sooty Oystercatcher is a striking black shorebird with a long red bill, red eye and pink legs.
Young birds are duller and browner. Average size is 50cms.

The Sooty Oystercatcher is endemic to Australia and is widespread in coastal eastern, southern
and western Australia. It is strictly coastal, usually within 50 m of the ocean. It prefers rocky shores,
but will be seen on coral reefs or sandy beaches near mudflats. It breeds on offshore islands and
isolated rocky headlands.

The Sooty Oystercatcher feeds on molluscs, crabs and other crustaceans, marine worms, starfish
and sea urchins, and small fish. It uses its long bill to stab at prey or to lever, prise or hammer open
food items. It drinks seawater.

The Sooty Oystercatcher breeds in colonies, with both members of a breeding pair incubating eggs
and caring for the young. They nest in a scrape on the ground among pebbles or shells on rocky
shores or cliffs.

Edited from The Australian Museum website Birds in Backyards.

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