The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. It has a long, orange-red bill and reddish-pink legs. In flight it shows a wide, white wing-stripe, a black tail and a white rump that extends as a ‘V’ between the wings.

Because it eats cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are overexploited.

They breed on almost all UK coasts. During the last 50 years, more birds have started breeding inland. Most UK birds spend the winter on the coast where they are joined on the east coast by birds from Norway.

Oystercatchers’ nests are a scrape in the ground made by the male. It may be lined with shells, fragments of rocks or small mammal droppings.

Oystercatchers lay 2-5 camouflaged eggs which are incubated by both male and female for 24-35 days. Chicks are covered in down and are fed by both parents. They fledge around 33 days but will still rely on their parents for food for some time.

Did you know?

There are 12 species in the world, all of which look very similar, being either pied or plain black, with a red bill and pink legs. A further species of oystercatcher became extinct in the 20th century.

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Helping wildlife at home this June
The RSPB’s wildlife gardening expert, Adrian Thomas, has answers to some of the hot topics this month. Find out why variety and choice is vital for birds who don’t lay eggs in nestboxes, which plants are best for butterflies, and how to turn your bee or bug hotel into five-star accommodation.
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  • More than 40 million birds have vanished from the UK in 50 years
  • One in ten of our wildlife is critically endangered

Within your lifetime, species such as song thrushes, cuckoos and even hedgehogs could die out altogether. As the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, the RSPB use your donations to restore habitats, protect species and save nature. Give a little today and make a big difference tomorrow. Thank you.

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