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Haematopodidae – Oystercatchers

haematopodidae
Chatham Oystercatcher in New Zealand: Photo by Lars Petersson

Welcome to our guides on Haematopodidae, a family found along coastlines around the world. With roughly a dozen species, these birds, known as oystercatchers, are fascinating for their specialized feeding habits and striking black and white plumage.

Overview of Haematopodidae

The oystercatcher’s bill is laterally compressed with razor-sharp edges, allowing it to swiftly cut the muscles of clams, oysters, and mussels. By immobilizing the mollusk, the oystercatcher can eat at its leisure. Typically found along marine coasts, they only venture inland in a few regions, where they feed primarily on earthworms. This dietary shift leads to noticeable changes in bill depth and sharpness within just a few weeks. This adaptability showcases how quickly bill morphology can change in response to prey and prompts questions about the dietary consistency of oystercatchers in other regions.