Our Latest News

Wineglass Bay - Notice to intending visitors

19/12/2014

Please note: This advice is provided to help avoid inconvenience to visitors intending to use the Wineglass Bay car park during the peak summer period from 26 December to 11 January.More

Ralph Falls track repair work under way

19/12/2014

The Parks and Wildlife Service has advised that works to repair and improve the visitor experience to Ralph Falls in the North-East, is under way.More

Discovery Ranger program explores parks and reserves

19/12/2014

Tasmanians are being encouraged to sample Tasmania's beautiful parks and reserves with the Discovery Ranger Program over the summer holidays.More

Sooty Oystercatcher, Haematopus fuliginosus

Description

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.

Habitat

The 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 rocky headlands. 

Diet

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.

Breeding

The Sooty 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.

Call

The call - similar to the Pied Oystercatcher - is sharp, ringing "klepp, kleep".
Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania

Distribution

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.