Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus

  • © Dave Barnes

Of the four oystercatchers of the New World, the Magellanic Oystercatcher stands out as unusual. It is slimmer and has a fine bill shape for one, and vocally its quavering whistles are unlike anything heard in the other three species. Visually similar to the American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), the Magellanic is blacker above, more extensively black below, lacking a contrast with the head/neck and back, and showing more white on the wing in flight. As well in breeding habitat, the Magellanic likes open moist short grasslands and wetlands, well away from the coast. They can even be found in moist areas in the mountains! During the non-breeding season they retreat to coastal areas, although they prefer beaches of pebbles and small rocks, more than dry sand. A modern molecular phylogeny of the oystercatchers is not available, but various differences between the Magellanic and other species of oystercatchers suggest it is an old lineage. As well, the two all-black oystercatchers of the New World may be more closely related to the white-bellied American, than any are to this similar looking white-bellied Magellanic Oystercatcher species.

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© Andrew Spencer

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Magellanic Oystercatcher (Haematopus leucopodus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: