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Sooty Oystercatcher

(Haematopus fuliginosus)
Alternate name(s): "Black Oystercatcher", "Black Redbill", "Wee-ardoo"
Aboriginal name(s): "goomp goom" (Gold Coast); "kwikan", "boorgortbotong" (WA)

Size: 40-52 cm
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Sooty Oystercatcher at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Race "fuliginosus"

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Near-lateral view of a Sooty Oystercatcher (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Kilcarnup Beach, WA, December 2016]

Lateral view of a Sooty Oystercatcher (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)

Lateral view of a Sooty Oystercatcher
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Sooty Oystercatcher
[Pebbly Beach, Crescent Head, NSW, October 2013]

Dorsal view of a Sooty Oystercatcher
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

Sooty Oystercatcher jumping and flapping its wings to beat water out of the feathers after taking a bath
[Pebbly Beach, Crescent Head, NSW, October 2013]

Sooty Oystercatcher preening; note how the mandibles can be offset for use as a fork
[Pebbly Beach, Crescent Head, NSW, October 2013]

Three out of four Sooty Oystercatchers
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, January 2011]

Sooty Oystercatcher in search of food
[Myall Lakes NP, NSW, June 2009]

Sooty Oystercatcher resting on a rock (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Two Peoples Bay, Albany, WA, January 2015]

Direct comparison of a Sooty Oystercatcher with a Pied Oystercatcher
[Iluka Bluff, Bundjalung NP, NSW, May 2014]

Lateral view of a Sooty Oystercatcher in flight
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

Trivia challenge: What is that? Answer: 3 Sooty Oystercatchers in flight
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Food, Diet

Sooty Oystercatches feed on oysters and other shellfish that they pry loose with their powerful bills.

Sooty Oystercatcher with a cockle it has caught; it was seen sliding one mandible of its bill between the two half shells in order to open it (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Broadbeach, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2014]

Sooty Oystercatcher with its meal
[Myall Lakes NP, NSW, June 2009]


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

sootoys_20150326.mp3 fuliginosus
Contact calls? (in-flight) © MD
sootoys_20140526_4.mp3 fuliginosus
Warning calls? (in-flight) © MD
sootoys_20150818.mp3 fuliginosus
Two birds (in-flight) © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.