Skip to main content Skip to main navigation

Oystercatcher

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.

They breed on almost all UK coasts. During 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.

How to spot them

The oystercatcher has a black head, back and wings, and a white underside. It has a long, red bill and pinky-red legs.

Where to see them

Widespread around the coast, with large wintering numbers at major estuaries. Also nests inland on flooded gravel pits and large rivers.

Conservation status

The oystercatcher is amber listed in the UK .   

Did you know

There are 12 species of oystercatcher in the world, all of which look very similar, being either pied or plain black, with a red bill and pink legs. A further species of oystercatcher became extinct in the 20th century.

Find out more