Haematopus moquini


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Haematopus moquini
Species Authority: Bonaparte, 1856
Common Name(s):
English African Oystercatcher, African Black Oystercatcher
French Huîtrier noir

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Dodman, T. & Simmons, R.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Martin, R, O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Robertson, P., Taylor, J.
This species is listed as Near Threatened owing to its small population. The current population trend is unknown, but if the species was found to be in decline it might qualify for a higher threat category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Haematopus moquini has a coastal breeding range which stretches from Lüderitz, Namibia, to Mazeppa Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The total population is estimated to number 5,000-6,000 individuals (T. Dodman in litt. 2002 to Wetlands International 2002), with about half occurring along the Western Cape (South Africa) coastline, half of these on its near-shore islands.

Namibia; South Africa
Angola (Angola); Mozambique
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated at 5,000-6,000 individuals (T. Dodman in litt. 2002), roughly equivalent to 3,300-4,000 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour Adults of this species are mostly sedentary, although some seasonal movement occurs between breeding and non-breeding habitats (Hockey et al. 2005), within a 15km range (Urban et al. 1986). Breeding occurs from September to April, with a peak from November to February (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). It breeds slightly later in Namibia than in South Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). The start and duration of egg-laying is affected by predation risk and weather conditions, including unpredictable tidal inundation (Calf and Underhill 2005, Tjørve and Underhill 2008). Juveniles either disperse at independence, moving up to 150km from their natal site to areas with high adult density (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005), or migrate up to 2000km to one of five nursery areas (Hockey et al. 2005). These return to their natal area after 2-3 years (Hockey et al. 2005). The species breeds and forages solitarily (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005), but roosts communally in groups of up to 200 in the non-breeding season (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat Breeding Offshore islands and sandy beaches are favoured as breeding habitats (Hockey et al. 2005). It rarely breeds on mainland rocky shores (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005). Non-breeding The species forages exclusively in the intertidal zone (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005) and is found on mainland rocky and sandy shores during the non-breeding season, being less frequent in estuaries, lagoons and coastal pans (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). It tends to roost on promontaries with good all-round visibility (Hockey et al. 2005). Nurseries occur in both sheltered bays and open rocky shores (Hockey et al. 2005). Diet Its diet includes primarily bivalves such as limpets and mussels, but also polychaetes, whelks and crustaceans (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). Breeding site The nest is a scrape in sand where possible, but on rocky subtrata shells are built up to form a lip (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005), or eggs are laid on bare rock (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). The nest is usually situated within 30m of the high water mark (Hockey et al. 2005, Calf and Underhill 2005), often beside a disruptive object such as a rock or clumps of kelp (Hockey et al. 2005, Jeffery and Scott 2005). The clutch-size ranges from one to three eggs, but is usually two. The incubation period is 27-39 days, followed by a fledging period of 35-40 days; pairs rear one or two chicks. Fledging success is 0.3-0.6 young per pair per year on predator-free offshore islands, but is lower on the mainland. There is evidence that breeding productivity has increased on the west coast since 1980, following the invasion of the Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Age of first breeding is three years in females, and probably four years in males. The species is known to live for over 18 years (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The peak of the breeding season coincides with peak coastal recreational activities and the resulting disturbance reduces breeding success (Leseberg et al. 2005). Off-road vehicles are a particular problem, as they churn up beaches, run over nests and crush eggs, and kill young hiding in vehicle tracks. In addition, people on beaches can keep adults off nests for extended periods, overheating eggs and killing embryos, and predation of eggs and chicks by domestic dogs can be a problem (Leseberg et al. 2005). Disturbance also leads to the predation of eggs and chicks by Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus (Jeffery and Scott 2005). On sections of the coastline undisturbed by humans, natural predators (e.g. mongoose) take many nests. The mainland is likely to prove a population sink for surplus birds from near-shore islands, with breeding productivity too low to sustain coastal populations. Coastal development is thought to have caused declines in some areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The c.30% of the total population that is found on offshore islands is threatened by the introduction of mammalian predators (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
On most near-shore islands, population sizes have been stable or increased recently due to either improved management, e.g. the cessation of guano-scraping during the 1980s, and/or a change in diet from indigenous limpets and mussels to invasive mussels such as Mytilus galloprovincialis (e.g. at Robben Island, South Africa) (Calf and Underhill 2002). Recreational vehicles have been banned from the Overberg coast since February 2002 (Jeffery and Scott 2005). The national Oystercatcher Conservation Programme (OCP) has been raising public awareness concerning the species and its needs, and has been generating local community involvement it its conservation (Jeffery and Scott 2005).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population trends and annual breeding success. Study local rates of predation. Create disturbance-free areas on beaches. Protect areas of coastal habitat. Design measures to prevent the introduction of mammalian predators to breeding islands.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Haematopus moquini. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 September 2015.
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