Alaska Species Explorer

Black Oystercatcher

Common Name: Black Oystercatcher
Scientific Name: Haematopus bachmani
Distribution: Rocky seacoasts along cool Pacific shores from the Aleutians south to Baja California.
Conservation Status:

The black oystercatcher is a keystone species along the North Pacific shoreline and is believed to be a particularly sensitive indicator of the overall health of the rocky intertidal community. The black oystercatcher is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “Species of Concern” because of its small population size, restricted range, and threats to habitat from human and natural factors that may potentially limit its long-term viability.

Average Wingspan: 35 inches
Average Weight: 500-700 grams
Plumage Description:

Black body with pink legs, long red-orange bill and yellow eyes; no seasonal change

Diet in the Wild:

Clams, mussels, limpets, chitons and small fish

Number of Eggs Per Clutch: 1-3 eggs
Incubation Period: 24-29 days

Rocky seashores in the intertidal zone.

Threats in the Wild:

Highly vulnerable to natural and human disturbances. Major threats include predation of eggs and young by native and non-native predators; coastal development; human disturbance (e.g., induced nest abandonment, nest trampling); vessel wakes, especially when they coincide with high tides; shoreline contamination such as oil spills

Did you know?:
  • They do not build a nest; they make a depression called a “scrape” in rocky beaches.
  • Their eggs are camouflaged (olive-buff with brownish-black blotches) to blend in with the rocks.
  • Contrary to what their name implies, they do not feed on oysters.