• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Sooty Oystercatcher - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies fuliginosus. Photo by Brian Egan
Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, May 2006

Includes: Spectacled Oystercatcher

Haematopus fuliginosus


46–49 cm (18-19¼ in)

  • overall plumage sooty-black
  • eye-ring red or yellow
  • bill red
  • legs pink

Young birds are duller and browner.


Subspecies fuliginosus. Photo by Ken Doy
Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia, 2014

Coasts and islands of Australia and Tasmania.


Reference [4] notes that opthalmicus may be elevated to species status as "Spectacled Oystercatcher", H. opthalmicus (ssp. opthalmicus).


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • H. f. opthalmicus: "Spectacled Oystercatcher". Coasts and islands of northern Australia (Shark Bay to Lady Elliot Island) [Smaller than fuliginosus with a distinctly yellow eye ring.]
  • H. f. fuliginosus: Coasts and islands of southern Australia (north to Brisbane); Tasmania. [Larger than H. f. opthalmicus with a red eye ring.]


Rocky coastlines and sometimes estuaries.



Colonial breeders, their nest is a ground scrape lined with broken shells, generally on a rocky shore. The clutch usually consists of 2 eggs, which are incubated by both adults and they both also care for the youngsters.


Their diet consists mostly of molluscs, crabs and crustaceans, marine worms, starfish, sea urchins, and small fish. They are quite deft with their bills at opening the shells of bi-valves. They also use it to stab at fish.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved February 2017)
  3. Birds in Backyards
  4. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1