40-48 cm, 425-820, bill length 76-99 mm. Adult has head, neck and upper breast all black. Scapulars, upper wing coverts and tail also black. A broad white wing bar from inner secondaries to middle primaries, becoming narrower and more broken distally.
Eye and eye-ring red, bill orange-red, legs pink.
The three Palaearctic races develop a white collar on fore neck in non-breeding plumage, the only oystercatchers to do so, bell slightly duller in winter.
In non-breeding season, mostly found on estuarine mudflats, but also salt marshes and sandy and rocky shores.
Breeds on salt marshes, sand and shingle beaches, less often on rocky coasts, also, especially in NW of range, breeds inland alongside water bodies and in agricultural land.
Food and Feeding
Feeds on mussels and other bivalves, limpets, whelks, marine polychaetes, crabs, earthworms and insect larvae.
When foraging on soft coastal substrates, important prey includes bivalves. Molluscs dominate diet on rocky shores.
All oystercatchers attack different prey types using variety of techniques hammering, prising, probing, and stabbing.
Laying Apr-May, with chicks mostly fledged by mid Sep. Nest is shallow scrape in ground, sometimes lined with shell and rock fragments, and, at inland sites, with small mammal droppings. 2-5 eggs, incubation 24-28 days.
Upper pars and face of downy young are drab with sparse buff tipping, crown heavily spotted black.
First breeding 3 years in females, 4 years in males. Longevity more than 40 years.