Haematopus ostralegus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Haematopus ostralegus
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Eurasian Oystercatcher, Oystercatcher, European Oystercatcher
French Huîtrier-pie
Taxonomic Notes: Haematopus ostralegus and H. finschi (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993), cross-regional species, are retained as separate species contra Turbott (1990) who include finschi as a subspecies of H. ostralegus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Cape Verde; China; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; Iceland; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Libya; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Malta; Mauritania; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nepal; Netherlands; Nigeria; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Sierra Leone; Slovakia; Somalia; South Africa; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; Uzbekistan; Western Sahara; Yemen
Angola (Angola); Canada; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Ethiopia; Gabon; Greenland; Guam; Lebanon; Liberia; Luxembourg; Maldives; Mali; Philippines; Seychelles; Slovenia; Togo; Uganda; United States (Georgia - Native)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is estimated to number c.1,100,000-1,200,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; < c.50 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Taiwan; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs in Korea; < c.1,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour Most populations of this species are fully migratory, inland breeders moving to the coast for the winter (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds from April to July (Hayman et al. 1986) in solitary pairs or small groups (Flint et al. 1984), during the winter foraging singly or in small groups of up to 10 individuals (Snow and Perrins 1998) and with larger flocks often forming in major bays and estuaries and at roosting sites (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitat Breeding The species breeds on coastal saltmarshes, sand and shingle beaches (del Hoyo et al. 1996), dunes, cliff-tops with short grass (Hayman et al. 1986) and occasionally rocky shores (del Hoyo et al. 1996), as well as inland along the shores of lakes, reservoirs and rivers (Hayman et al. 1986) or on agricultural (del Hoyo et al. 1996) grass and cereal fields, often some distance from water (Hayman et al. 1986). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species is chiefly coastal, frequenting estuarine mudflats, saltmarshes and sandy and rocky shores (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet When foraging on soft intertidal substrates bivalves and gastropods are the most important food items for this species (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Polychaetes and crustaceans are more important in estuaries however, and molluscs (e.g. mussels, limpets and whelks) are most important on rocky shores (del Hoyo et al. 1996). When inland, prey such as earthworms and insect larvae (e.g. caterpillars and cranefly larvae) are also taken (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996) often on raised surfaces (e.g. earth banks) (Hayman et al. 1986) in the open or in short vegetation (Snow and Perrins 1998) on cultivated or uncultivated land, cliff-tops, rocky outcrops or clearings in taller vegetation including woods and moorland (Snow and Perrins 1998). Management information The breeding numbers of this species may decline if cattle grazing regimes are implemented on coastal grassland, possibly as a result of changes in food availability and increased predation risks (Olsen and Schmidt 2004). Removing large numbers of gulls (e.g. Larus argentatus and Larus fuscus) from islands may attract higher breeding numbers of the species but may not improve the overall breeding conditions (Harris and Wanless 1997). There is also evidence that the creation of large marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect this species from the threat of anthropogenic shellfish over-fishing may not be an effective management or conservation technique on a global scale, especially if over-fishing continues to occur in adjacent areas (Verhulst et al. 2004).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to the species is the over-fishing of benthic shellfish and the resulting disappearance of intertidal mussel and cockle beds (Atkinson et al.2003, Verhulst et al. 2004, Ens 2006). The species is also threatened by habitat degradation on its wintering grounds due to land reclamation, pollution, human disturbance (Kelin and Qiang 2006) (e.g. from construction work) (Burton et al. 2002), coastal barrage construction (Burton 2006) and reduced river flows (Kelin and Qiang 2006). The species is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Haematopus ostralegus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <>. Downloaded on 23 July 2014.
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