An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. Img_4605_cgillies On the beach by C. Gillies
  2. _cw_user__australian_pied_oystercatcher_haematopus_longirostris_andre_arsinee Photo taken by ClimateWatcher Andre Arsinee

Australian Pied Oystercatcher

Haematopus longirostris


  • Medium shore birds with long skinny legs and a long beak.
  • Black head and black with a white belly, 
  • Orange-red eyes
  • Distinctive orange legs and beak.
  • Size:  50cm

What to Observe

  • Presence
  • Feeding 
  • Courting/mating
  • Bird on nest 

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

Australian pied oystercatchers nest on the upper parts of sandy beaches and are one of the main predators for pipis (marine bivalves) and beach invertebrates. This makes them vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise, storm surges and overuse by humans. Australian pied oystercatchers are listed as vulnerable by the NSW government and scientists are worried that their numbers are slowly decreasing in the wild. 

When To Look

Throughout the year for presence. August to January for breeding

Where To Look

  • Mudflats, sandbanks and sandy ocean beaches 
  • They are often found in pairs
  • Throughout Australia 
 Australian Pied Oystercatcher compiled distribution map - BirdLife International
Australian Pied Oystercatcher compiled distribution map - BirdLife International




Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.



Slater, P. Slater, P. and Slater, R. (1988). The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds. Lansdowne-Rigby Publishers NSW, Australia.


  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Sooty oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus), look similar to the pied oystercatcher, and can often co-occur on the same beach. The sooty oystercatcher lacks the white feathers and although their beaks and legs are dark red their bodies are completely black.

  1. Did You Know?

    A breeding pair typically reuses a nest site over many years and will rarely change its nesting area.

    Oystercatchers are experts at catching sand worms that fisherman prize for bait.