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Charadriiformes > Haematopodidae

Variable Oystercatcher

Haematopus unicolor

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Identification

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A large, stocky shorebird endemic to New Zealand. Adults vary in color from all black to pied, with a range of intermediate morphs in between. Juveniles have a dark-tipped bill, browner plumage, and gray legs. A coastal bird, breeding on sandy beaches, sand spits, rocky coasts, and occasionally the shores of coastal lakes. Will forage in paddocks. Gives a loud piping alarm call. Pied-morph birds appear similar to South Island Pied Oystercatcher (SIPO) and Chatham Oystercatcher. Adult pied-morph Variable Oystercatchers are visibly larger, with smudgy border between pied plumage on breast. Also note less white showing forward of folded wing around “shoulder.”

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Variable Oystercatcher

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