What’s that bird? 03

You’re on the beach, perhaps just south of the river and see these birds, probably in pairs, maybe running around on the sand. What’s that bird? He aha tērā manu?

A chunky black bird with a bright orange bill.
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

Scroll down to see the answer.

Answer: it’s a variable oystercatcher, tōrea pango:

Identification: Length: 48 cm; Weight: 720 g

Similar species: South Island pied oystercatcher, Chatham Island oystercatcher

A large heavily-built wader with black upperparts and underparts that vary from all black through a range of ‘smudgy’ intermediate states to white. The long straight bill is bright orange, the stout legs coral-pink, and the eyes red each with an orange eye-ring.

Previously shot for food, variable oystercatchers probably reached low numbers before being protected in 1922, since when numbers have increased rapidly. They are long-lived, with some birds reaching 30+ years of age.

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Waikawa Beach or Manakau

New Zealand

Other