Haematopus ostralegus

What do they look like?

Oystercatchers are large and striking wading birds with a red bill and legs. The head, back, tail and wings of the oystercatcher are black and the chest and underside are white. In flight the oystercatcher shows a white stripe across its wings, and its body appears in a clear white ‘v’ shape between them.

When can I see them in Scotland?

All year.

Where can I see them in Scotland?

Oystercatchers can be spotted around the Scottish coast and in some areas inland, especially during summer when they may choose to nest near flooded gravel pits or large rivers. During winter you can see large numbers of oystercatchers around estuaries, as migrating populations from other countries join resident oystercatchers. They can be seen searching in the ground with their long bills for food, which is usually worms, cockles and mussels.

Conservation Status:

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to the Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Oystercatchers are currently an ‘Amber’ listed species.

83 cm
24-27 days
34-37 days
12 years
Average lifespan

Oystercatcher on a rock
© Emily Burton