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Sooty Oystercatcher

Haematopus fuliginosus

Sooty Oystercatcher © 2010 Jon Coleman

Subspecies

H. f. fuliginosus
H. f. opthalmicus

Other Names

Black Oystercatcher, Redbill, Black Redbill.

Identification

The Sooty Oystercatcher is a solid black bird with a red bill and pink legs, usually found on rocky shores.

Plumage

Adult: This is a completely black bird, with a straight, strong long red bill.  The legs are coloured pink.  The iris of the eye is red.  The sexes are similar.
Juvenile:  It might appear to be less black.  The bill is orange.  The legs are grey

Distribution

Found right around Australia, though considered rare in the north particularly in the Gulf of Carpentaria.  It is usually found on rocky coasts, off-shore islands, coral isles and single beaches, but will be found on sandy coasts.

Migratory habits

Resident.  Most of the time it seems to be sedentary, with small local movements.

Breeding

Usually found nesting on off-shore islands, using a shallow scrape on sandy and shingle shores.

Status

Secure but could become vulnerable due to disturbance and the few concentrations of this species.  The population is estimated to be about 4,000 birds.

Confusing Species

Pied Oystercatcher:  Similar to the Sooty Oystercatcher but has white in the plumage.
Southern Island Pied Oystercatcher:  Similar to the Sooty Oystercatcher but has white in the plumage.

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