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Haematopus ostralegus (Eurasian oystercatcher) 

Bonttobie [Afrikaans]; Scholekster [Dutch]; Huîtrier pie [French]; Austernfischer [German]; Ostraceiro-europeu [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Haematopodidae

Haematopus ostralegus (Eurasian oystercatcher)  Haematopus ostralegus (Eurasian oystercatcher) 

Eurasian oystercatcher, Iceland. [photo Sigurdur Sigurbjornsson ©]

European oystercatcher, Yzerfontein, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds at Iceland, central and northern Russia and China, heading south in the non-breeding season to eastern Asia and the coast of Africa, mainly above 20° North. It is a vagrant to southern Africa, with over 70 records (and counting) spread across the southern coast of South Africa and coastal central Namibia and Mozambique. It generally prefers sheltered shores with soft sediment, such as estuaries and lagoons, while largely absent from rocky areas.

Distribution of Eurasian oystercatcher in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.