Black oystercatchers

Black Oystercatcher [Haematopus bachmani] Habitat, Characteristics, Facts

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Scientific Classification

AnimaliaChordataAvesCharadriiformesHaematopodidaeHaematopusHaematopus bachmani

Black Oystercatcher

Black oystercatchers, or Haematopus bachmani, are a well-known species of black bird native to the western coast of North America, which stretches from the Baja California peninsula to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. In most of its range, it is the only member of the oystercatcher family

(Haematopodidae), with the exception of a small area along the Baja California coast where it somewhat overlaps with the American oystercatcher (H. palliatus). Within its range, this species is often called the black oystercatcher, but it is also called by the African oystercatcherand the blackish oystercatcher in

local parlance. The scientific name of John James Audubon was adopted from that of his buddy John Bachman. The Haematopus bachmani is thought to have a global population of 8,900–11,000 individuals, although not being considered a threatened species at this time. It is listed as a

species of high concern in a number of conservation plans, including the Northern & Southern Pacific Shorebird Conservation Plans, the Alaskan, Canadian, and U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plans, indicating its considerable conservation importance throughout its range. In addition, the Chugach National Forest

recognizes it as a management indicator species, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has designated it as a focal species for conservation action. It also functions as a keystone indicator species along the north Pacific shoreline.

Black oystercatchers


  1. Scientific Name: Haematopus bachmani.
  2. Appearance:
    • Large, stocky shorebird.
    • Distinctive black plumage.
    • Long, bright orange to reddish bill.
    • Pink legs.
  3. Habitat:
    • found in estuaries, coastal regions, and rocky shorelines.
    • prefers environments where there are plenty of shellfish for food.
  4. Range:
    • mostly along North America’s Pacific coast.
    • from Baja California to Alaska.
  5. Feeding Habits:
    • Shellfish is a staple of a specialized diet, especially mollusks like limpets and mussels.
    • Pries open shells with its powerful bill.
  6. Behavior:
    • Frequently observed foraging by the coast.
    • nests on cliffs along the coast or rugged islands.
    • vocal, particularly in the breeding season, and they make loud calls.
  7. Breeding:
    • monogamous and establishes enduring couple relationships.
    • Builds its nests in secluded spots on stony terrain.
    • often lays two to three eggs.
  8. Conservation Status:
    • regarded as a species with a conservation rating of “Least Concern”.
    • susceptible to alterations and loss of habitat.
  9. Adaptations:
    • robust, webbed feet that are well suited to coastal conditions.
    • Its unique look makes it blend nicely with the rocky environment.
  10. Conservation Concerns:
    • prone to disruptions in the breeding season that could cause them to abandon their nests.
    • Their habitats may be impacted by human disturbance and coastal development.


Large shorebird, black head, throat, and breast, dark brown body, big bright red/orange bill (9 cm (3.5 in), and pink legs are characteristics of the Haematopus bachmani. Both the iris and the eye ring are bright yellow in color. Being darker further north, its plumage varies slightly from south to north.

Black oystercatchers


The bird species is restricted to a small geographic area and seldom travels far from coasts, with rocky beaches being their special favorite. It is observed to be primarily found along shorelines with calm embayments, particularly those sheltered by jetties. Its primary feeding grounds are the intertidal zone,

where it feeds on marine invertebrates, particularly mollusks like chitons, mussels, and limpets. In addition, it eats barnacles, isopods, and crabs. around visual exploration, the bird finds its way around the intertidal zone in search of food, frequently flying up near to the water’s edge to avoid the breaking

surf. It uses its powerful bill to pry food from containers and crack open shells. It usually stays still at high tides, sleeping and waiting for the tidal reversal flow.

Black oystercatchers


Nesting Sites: They build their nests on rocky or gravelly areas, sometimes with shell fragments. This gives them protection and camouflage, especially on islands where it can ward off ground predators.

Nesting Season: Depending on the location, breeding takes place in the spring, usually from April to August.

Courtship and Pair Formation: Prior to mating, engage in courtship displays and establish committed, monogamous partnerships.

Nest Construction: With the help of both sexes, make a basic ground scrape that is frequently bordered with stones or broken shells.

Laying of eggs: Typically, a clutch contains two or three spotted eggs that are disguised to provide cover. A female spends roughly a month incubating.

Parental Care: Both parents lay eggs, feed, and shield precocial chicks that are born with open eyes and down feathers.

Feeding: Parents train their chicks to forage in the intertidal zone by feeding them a diet of tiny invertebrates and by keeping close to the nest.

Fledging: Four to six weeks after hatching, chicks leave the nest, growing more self-reliant while still absorbing knowledge from their parents.

Species in same Genus

SpeciesScientific Name
American OystercatcherHaematopus palliatus
Eurasian OystercatcherHaematopus ostralegus
African OystercatcherHaematopus moquini
Variable OystercatcherHaematopus unicolor
Sooty OystercatcherHaematopus fuliginosus
Pied OystercatcherHaematopus longirostris
Magellanic OystercatcherHaematopus leucopodus
Canary Islands OystercatcherHaematopus meadewaldoi
Black oystercatchers


Their vocalization is typified by a sequence of strong, unique sounds. Many people describe these calls as a melodious “kleeep” sound or as a shrill, piping whistle. Especially during the breeding season and when defending their territory, the birds use these vocalizations as a means of communication. Depending on the situation—for example, if it’s an alert, a mate, or a territorial boundary—the calls can differ in volume and frequency. Their vocal repertoire is essential to its social interactions and ecological communication, all things considered.


  1. Habitat loss due to coastal development.
  2. Human activity-related disturbance.
  3. Environmental contamination near the coast.
  4. Imported species preying on eggs and chicks.
  5. How intertidal foraging regions may be affected by climate change.
Black oystercatchers


The average flight speed of the Haematopus bachmani is approximately 35 to 40 miles per hour (56 to 64 kilometers per hour).


They have an average lifespan of about 15 to 20 years in the wild.

Common Names in Different Languages

LanguageCommon Name for Black Oystercatcher
EnglishBlack Oystercatcher
SpanishOstrero Negro
FrenchHuîtrier noir
DutchZwarte Scholekster
ItalianBeccaccia di mare nera
RussianЧёрный мартын (Chyorny martyn)
Japaneseクロウミソリ (Kuroumisori)
Chinese黑蛎鹬 (Hēi lì yù)
Korean검은물까마귀도요 (Geomunmulkkamagwidoyo)
Black oystercatchers


  1. What is the Haematopus bachmani preferred habitat?
    • They prefer rocky shorelines, gravelly areas, and islands, often choosing locations with camouflage and protection.
  2. When does the Haematopus bachmani breed?
    • The breeding season generally occurs in spring, typically from April to August, depending on the specific region.
  3. How do they construct their nests?
    • They create a simple ground scrape, often lined with pebbles, shell fragments, or materials found in the immediate vicinity.
  4. What is the clutch size of the eggs?
    • A typical clutch consists of two or three mottled eggs, well-camouflaged to protect them from predators.
  5. How long is the incubation period for Haematopus bachmani eggs?
    • The female incubates the eggs, and the incubation period lasts for about a month.
  6. Are Haematopus bachmani monogamous?
    • Yes, they are known for forming long-term monogamous pairs.
  7. What do Haematopus bachmani feed their chicks?
    • Parents feed the chicks a diet primarily consisting of small invertebrates found in the intertidal zone.
  8. How long does it take for Haematopus bachmani chicks to fledge?
    • Chicks fledge, or leave the nest, approximately four to six weeks after hatching.
  9. What are the main threats to Black Oystercatchers?
    • Threats include habitat loss from coastal development, disturbance by human activities, pollution, predation of eggs and chicks by introduced species, and potential impacts of climate change affecting their foraging areas.
  10. What is the average lifespan ?
  • The average lifespan of a Haematopus bachmani in the wild is about 15 to 20 years.

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