Story: Wading birds

Variable oystercatchers

Variable oystercatchers

Variable oystercatchers breed in coastal sites, unlike the South Island pied oystercatcher. Consequently they are less migratory, often staying close to their breeding area all year. They breed around the mainland coasts and Stewart Island. This pair has pure black plumage, but there is considerable variation within the species. All are black above, but some have a speckled black-and-white belly, and others have a pure white belly, making them hard to distinguish from the pied oystercatcher. However, the pied morph of the variable oystercatcher has a more blurred boundary between the black chest and white belly, and lacks the white strip between the chest and the folded wing seen on the South Island pied oystercatcher.

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Department of Conservation
Reference: 10055589
Photograph by Paul Schilov

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How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Wading birds - Oystercatchers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 July 2024)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015