African black oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini)

loading
African black oystercatcher feeding
loading
Loading more images and videos...

African black oystercatcher fact file

African black oystercatcher description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderCharadriiformes
FamilyHaematopodidae
GenusHaematopus (1)

Large flocks of this bulky bird can be found along the coast of South Africa (4). The African black oystercatcher has glossy black plumage, which contrasts with its red eye, and bright orangey-red eye-ring and long bill. The sturdy legs are a deep pinkish-red. Males can be distinguished from females by their blunter, shorter bills (2), and immature oystercatchers have duller, browner plumage with a dark tipped bill (4).

Also known as
African oystercatcher.
French
Huîtrier noir.
Size
Length: 42 – 45 cm (2)
Male weight: 482 – 757 g (2)
Female weight: 646 – 800 g (2)
Top

African black oystercatcher biology

African black oystercatchers forage in the intertidal zone of their coastal habitat (5). In rocky areas the primary prey for the African black oystercatcher are mussels and limpets, but this coastal bird also feeds on whelks and other bivalves and crustaceans (2) (6). Feeding on such prey can pose difficulties as the tasty flesh is hidden within a hard shell. However, with its strong bill the African black oystercatcher can cut the muscle that holds the two halves of the shell together and stab the prey inside, or hammer the shell open on rocks (2).

The African black oystercatcher can lay eggs from October to April, but laying occurs primarily from December to February. In a scrape in the sand, among shells or sometimes on bare rocks, a clutch of one to two eggs is laid (2). The eggs hatch after 27 to 39 days of incubation, and the young fledge between 35 to 40 days of age, ending a period in which the eggs and young are exceptionally vulnerable to terrestrial predators. African black oystercatchers are believed to first breed at the age of three or four, and live for over 18 years (2).

Top

African black oystercatcher range

The African black oystercatcher breeds along the southern African coast from northern Namibia to the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa (2).

Top

African black oystercatcher habitat

The African black oystercatcher inhabits rocky and sandy shores, and sometimes estuaries and coastal lagoons. It prefers to breed on offshore islands and sandy beaches (2).

Top

African black oystercatcher status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened

Top

African black oystercatcher threats

The coastal breeding site of the African black oystercatcher makes it vulnerable to human disturbance, particularly as the breeding season coincides with the height of the summer tourist season. Eggs and chicks are crushed by people or off-road vehicles, or eaten by domestic dogs (5). Coastal development has also caused populations to decline in some areas (2). As the African black oystercatcher forages exclusively in the intertidal zone, it has a limited time to obtain the food it requires before the tide comes in. Disturbance during this period may result in birds having insufficient time to obtain enough food for themselves and their young (5). African black oystercatchers breeding on islands are less vulnerable to human disturbance; instead the major threat to these populations is the introduction of terrestrial mammalian predators (2) (7).

Top

African black oystercatcher conservation

The Oystercatcher Conservation Programme, launched in 1998, undertakes research on the African black oystercatcher and aims to develop a conservation strategy for the African black oystercatcher (8). In addition, this bird is listed on Appendix II of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, which calls on parties to the agreement to engage in a wide range of conservation actions (3).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

For further information on the African black oystercatcher see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Bivalves
In this group of aquatic molluscs the soft parts are encased in a shell consisting of two parts known as valves.
Crustaceans
A diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
Forage
To search for food.
Intertidal zone
The region between the high tide mark and low tide mark.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (April, 2007)
    http://www.unep-aewa.org/
  4. Borrow, N. and Demey, R. (2001) Birds of Western Africa. Christopher Helm, London.
  5. Leseberg, A., Hockey, P.A.R. and Loewenthal, D. (2000) Human disturbance and the chick-rearing ability of African black oystercatchers (Haematopus moquini): a geographical perspective. Biological Conservation, 96(3): 379 - 385.
  6. Hockey, P.A.R. and Underhill, L.G. (1984) Diet of the African black oystercatcher Haematopus moquini on rocky shores: Spatial, temporal and sex related variation. South African Journal of Zoology, 19(1): 1 - 11.
  7. Hockey, P.A.R. (1983) The distribution, population size, movements and conservation of the African black oystercatcher Haematopus moquini. Biological Conservation, 25(3): 233 - 262.
  8. Oystercatcher Conservation Programme Newsletter (October, 2007)
    http://sacoast.uwc.ac.za/education/resources/envirofacts/oystercatcher/oystercatcher_tidings.htm
X
Close

Image credit

African black oystercatcher feeding  
African black oystercatcher feeding

© Peter Chadwick

Peter Chadwick
P.O.Box 565
Bredarsdorp 7280
South Africa
Tel: +27 (82) 373 4190
peter.ian.chadwick@gmail.com
http://www.peterchadwick.co.za

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - African black oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog