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Three Capes Track update


Tasmania's national parks remain open and accessible to all Tasmanians.More

Bookings open for Three Capes Track


Tasmania's newest exciting tourism venture, the Three Capes Track, officially opens for bookings today with visitors set to enjoy the world class attraction in time for Christmas.More

Strong demand for Overland Track bookings


The popularity of the iconic Overland Track continues to grow with a big increase in the number of bookings for the next walking season compared to last year.More

Sooty Oystercatcher, Haematopus fuliginosus


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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


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.