Sooty Oystercatchers specialise in feeding on intertidal invertebrates on rock shores like intertidal reefs and around headlands - although they can also be found on sandy beaches.

If you’ve ever visited a rock pool you’ll know how well attached some Muscles, Oysters and other creatures are. This is why Sooty Oystercatchers have evolved amazingly strong bills allowing them to prize off and crack open even the toughest “shellfish”.

Sooty Oystercatchers often breed on small rocky islands just off the coast, but can also nest on beaches.

There are two subspecies; the Southern Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus fuliginosus) and the Northern Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus ophthalmicus).

shooty pic1

Finding nests or young chicks on these islands is almost impossible, however if you are near a nest or young you will probably know because parents will take to the air calling loudly around you and possibly even swooping you.


Click images to enlarge


Recently hatched Sooty Oystercatcher chicks (<1 week old)


Sooty Oystercatcher juvenile with adult. This juvenile is flying age at

around 4-5 weeks. Note the pale legs, bill and eye (compared with adults (above).


Older Sooty Oystercatcher chick (~2-3 week old)

Unlike Hoodies, Oystercatchers do feed their chicks - as you can see in this short video clip (left).

For Sooty Oystercatchers in particular this is critical because it takes time for birds to develop bills tough enough to crack open Oysters and Muscles.

Where do Sooty Oystercatchers nest in your area?

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