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Conservation status: Amber

The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. It has a long, orange-red bill and reddish-pink legs. In flight, it shows a wide white wing-stripe, a black tail, and a white rump that extends as a 'V' between the wings. Because it eats cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are overexploited. Breeds on almost all UK coasts; over the last 50 years, more birds have started breeding inland. Most UK birds spend the winter on the coast; where they are joined on the east coast by birds from Norway.



Latin name

Haematopus ostralegus


Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)

Where to see them

Possible to see on almost all coasts of the UK. Look for breeding birds in summer at RSPB coastal reserves. In winter, you can see large numbers on major estuaries, such as Morecambe Bay.

When to see them

All year round.

What they eat

Mussels and cockles on the coast; mainly worms inland.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-110,000 pairs340,000 birds-




Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto