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9

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
Weight: ca. 800 g (average)
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

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "fuliginosus"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a Sooty Oystercatcher; even taking into account the fore-shortening effect of a frontal view, this bird appears to have a relatively short bill, which makes it a likely male (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, August 2017]

Lateral view of a Sooty Oystercatcher; its relatively short bill indicates that it is a male(?) (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, January 2018]

The difference in the length of the bill between male and female Sooty Oystercatchers is small and it usually takes a combined view of a pair to tell the two apart - here, the bird on the left has a shorter bill, likely a male, than the one on the right, which is likely a female (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, August 2017]

Lateral view of a pair of Sooty Oystercatcher; male(?) on the left, female(?) on the right (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, January 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a pair of Sooty Oystercatcher; male(?) on the right, female(?) on the left (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, January 2018]

FEMALE

Sooty Oystercatcher in search of food; because of the apparent length of its bill, this bird is likely a female
[Myall Lakes NP, NSW, June 2009]

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

Sex unknown

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 pair of Sooty Oystercatcher (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, January 2018]

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 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]

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

Race "opthalmicus"

ADULT

MALE

Lateral view of a Sooty Oystercatcher; based on the length of the bill, this bird is probably a male - note the wide orbital ring, short bill and dark claws typical of this race (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Nightcliff, Darwin, NT, March 2013]

Lateral view of a male(?) Sooty Oystercatcher, together with a Pied Oystercatcher (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point, Darwin, NT, July 2018]

FEMALE

Near-lateral view of a pair of Sooty Oystercatchers; based on the length of the bill, the bird on the left is probably a female, the one on the right a male (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Nightcliff, Darwin, NT, March 2013]

Sex unknown

Near-dorsal view of a Sooty Oystercatcher, together with a Sanderling; click on photo to see several other species of waders (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Nightcliff, Darwin, NT, March 2013]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial? Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Pair/family clan

Food, Diet

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

Female(?) 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 prey (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, August 2017]

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

Call(s)/Song

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
(N NSW)
Contact calls? (in-flight) © MD
sootoys_20140526_4.mp3 fuliginosus
(N NSW)
Warning calls? (in-flight) © MD
sootoys_20150818.mp3 fuliginosus
(N NSW)
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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