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
Photograph by Paul Schilov
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