The Sooty Oystercatcher reaches up to 510mm in length. It has entirely black plumage and, indeed, is the only all-black shorebird in Australia. It has a long red bill,
red eye and dark pink legs.
Males and females are similar in appearance and young birds are a duller brown rather than black.
It is often
seen with the similar (black and white) Pied Oystercatcher
Sooty Oystercatcher is a coastal bird, preferring rocky shores in contrast to the Pied Oystercatcher, which is frequently found on beaches. The Sooty Oystercatcher will, however, occasionally be seen on sandy beaches. It is found either singularly or in pairs. It breeds on offshore islands and isolated
The name "oystercatcher" is a misnomer because they seldom eat oysters. Pied Oystercatchers feed mainly on bivalve molluscs, worms, crabs and other crustaceans, starfish, seaurchins and small fish, using its
long bill to stab, lever, prise or hammer open food items.
Oystercatcher breeds in Spring and Summer. They nest in a scrape on the
ground among pebbles or shells, pigface or seaweed on rocky shores above the high-tide mark.two to three eggs are laid. Both members of a breeding pair
incubate the eggs and care for the young.
Nest are vulnerable to disturbance from dogs, and 4WD and people traversing beaches above the hightide mark.
The call - similar to the Pied Oystercatcher - is sharp, ringing "klepp, kleep".
The Sooty Oystercatcher is found only in Australia and is widespread in coastal eastern, southern and western Australia.
They are common around the coast of Tasmania, and particularly on the Bass Strait islands.