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Variable Oystercatcher

Haematopus unicolor


Endemic oystercatcher to New Zealand. It has 3 colour morphs to really confuse things. The individuals here are dark morph being completely black plumage with bright orange bill and eye-ring and pink legs. There is also a pied morph and an intermediate morph. They are quite a large oystercatcher measuring 47-49cm in length and weighing in at just over 700gms.


Found all around the New Zealand coast line including Stewart Island. These birds were roosting up near the high water mark.


Its interesting to note that the colour morphs tend to be related to geographic distribution. Black birds are less common in the north and central North Island (approx 43%) and far more common in the South and Stewart Islands (85-94% of the population).

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triggsturner 6 years ago

Thank you Ashley. These Variables can often be very engaging.

AshleyT 6 years ago

Awesome shots! I LOVE oystercatchers

triggsturner 6 years ago

Very similar Mark. Between the various black oystercatchers around the place and then the various pied ones it can all be a bit of a puzzle! ;)

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 6 years ago

Looks very like our Sooty

Spotted by

Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Spotted on Apr 27, 2013
Submitted on Feb 21, 2016

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