Sooty Oystercatcher (species: Haematopus fuliginosus) in taxonomy (Gaia Guide)
Haematopus fuliginosus
Sooty Oystercatcher

©Nick Talbot: Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus)

©J.J. Harrison: Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Charadriiformes
Family Haematopodidae
Genus Haematopus
Species Haematopus fuliginosus
Status least concern



Distinguishing features

All of its feathers are black. It has a red eye, red eye ring,   red-orange bill, and pink legs.  Its bill is 5 to 8 cm long. Immature birds have grey-brown legs, a bill tipped with brown, a browner cast to their plumage, and brown eyes. The bill, eyes and legs become red by the second year. (Wikipedia)


  • From 42 cm to 52 cm (Length of specimen) - applies to Adults


  • Wingspan data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

It is a wading bird endemic to Australia and commonly found on its coastline. It prefers rocky coastlines, but will occasionally live in estuaries. (Wikipedia)

Audio recordings


Two birds flying over surf.

© Matthias Feuersenger


It almost always forages in the intertidal zone, for the two hours either side of low tide. Females, with their thinner bills, focus on soft-bodied prey which they could swallow whole such as fish, crabs, bluebottle jellyfish and various worm-like creatures such as cunjevoi, while males prefer hard-shelled prey such as mussels (Mytilus planulatus), sea urchins, turban shells (Turbo undulatus and Turbo torquata), and black periwinkle (Nerita atramentosa). (Wikipedia)

Web resources


  • Simpson, K., N. Day and P. Trusler (2004). Field Guide to Birds of Australia: 7th Edition Penguin Group (Australia), Camberwell, Victoria.
  • Smith, G.C. (1987). The birds of Eagle Island, a tropical sand cay on the northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia, The Sunbird, 17(1): 1-11. LIRS catalog number 245.