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BIRD OF THE YEAR 2018AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER
African Black Oystercatcher
Hi, my name is Rocky. I am an African Black Oystercatcher. There are 12 oystercatcher species worldw ide.
Two species can be found in South Africa, the visiting Eurasian Oystercatcher and the near-endemic African
Black Oystercatcher. The African Black Oystercatcher is the only one that breeds in South Africa. I am
described as a very distinctive and charismatic bird w ith bright, contrasting colours which makes me easy to
identify. The genus name, Haematopus, means legs and feet red like blood, which is exactly what I look like!
NECK POWERFUL NECK MUSCLES
TO JAB AT AND BREAK
BILL LONG FLATTENED, CHISEL-SHAPED TO JAB AT PARTIALLY OPEN VALVES OF MUSSELS AND SCISSOR OUT THE FLESH.
MALE BILL IS SHORTER AND BLUNTER THAN THAT OF THE FEMALE BIRD.
LEGS AND FEET
BODY BLACK PLUMAGE IN ADULTS.
GREY PLUMAGE IN JUVENILES.
CHICKS ARE GREY WITH BLACK STRIPES
BEHIND THE EYES AND CROWN.
CALL LOUD KLEEP, KLEE-A OR KLEE-EEP SOUND.
WHEN IN DANGER SHARP REPEATED PIC OR
PIC-PIC ALARM CALL.
WINGS 80 TO 88 CM
SIZE 42 - 45 CM
WEIGHT 665 G 730 G SEXUAL MATURITY 3 YRS 4 YRSLIFESPAN UP TO 29 YRS
I only breed on the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia. In Mozambique
and Angola you w ill find some of my non-breeding friends. I prefer rocky,
sandy and mixed substrate coastlines along the mainland and islands. When Im
not breeding, I love to join large flocks of birds to roost on high vantage points.
Habitat and Distribution
Unlike my name oystercatcher, I do not eat oysters! I prefer bivalves (mussels), limpets, polychaetes (worms), whelks and crustaceans. On sandy
shores, I mainly eat sand mussles whereas on rocky shores my diet is more varied. I only feed during low tide in the zone between the low-water
mark and high-water mark. This requires me to feed day and night to take advantage of both low tides.
Food and Feeding
EYES RED EYES WITH ORANGE EYE RING.
BREEDING MONOGOMOUS - WILL STAY TOGETHER FOR UP TO 20 YEARS. BUTTERFLY FLIGHTS - SLOW
FLIGHT WITH DEEP WING-BEATS - ARE PERFORMED
IN PRE-BREEDING AND BREEDING PERIODS.
TERRITORIAL ESTABLISH TERRITORY FIRST BEFORE BREEDING.PIPING DISPLAYS GIVEN IN TERRITORY DEFENCE WITH BILLS HELD DOWNWARDS
AND SHOULDERS HUNCHED OR WINGS SLIGHTLY RAISED WHILE CALLING LOUDLY.
RETURN TO THE SAME SIGHT TO BUILD THEIR NEST YEAR AFTER YEAR.
NEST BREEDING SEASON BET WEEN OCTOBER AND APRIL. NEST BARE SCRAPE IN SAND OR SHALLOW INDENTATION IN ROCK,
SURROUNDED BY A RING OF SHELLS AND ROCKS ABOVE THE HIGH WATER
MARK. LAY 1 - 2 WELL CAMOUFLAGED EGGS. BOTH PARENTS INCUBATE
EGGS FOR 27 - 39 DAYS. ADULTS PERFORM FALSE BROODING DISPLAY
WHEN THREATENED TO DIVERT ATTENTION AWAY FROM REAL NEST.
CHICKS IN RESPONSE TO PARENTS ALARM CALL, HIDES UNDER BUSH,ROCKS, CRACKS, OR FREEZES IN OPEN WHEN THERE IS NO COVER.
ADULTS PERFORM DISTRACTION-LURE DISPLAY WITH NO VOCALIZATION
TO DIVERT ATTENTION AWAY FROM THEIR CHICKS.
CARE OF CHICKS CHICKS BORN WITH EYES OPEN,COVERED IN DOWN, MOBILE, BUT STILL DEPENDENT
ON ADULTS FOR FOOD. FED BY BOTH ADULTS; ONE
FORAGES WHILE OTHER CLOSELY GUARDS CHICKS.
FUN FACT - CHICKS CAN SWIM TO AVOID PREDATORS!
FOOD PREY CARRIED WHOLE TO CHICKS, FLESH THEN REMOVED AND SHELL DISCARDED TO FORM
SHELL MIDDEN CLOSE TO NEST.
FLEDGE CHICKS FLEDGE AT 35 - 40 DAYS ANDLEAVE PARENTS TERRITORY AFTER 2 - 6 MONTHS.
JUVENILES MIGRATE TO NURSERY AREAS IN NAMIBIA
AND ANGOLA FOR 2-3 YEARS BEFORE RETURNING.
Rockys Life Cycle
Content and Illustrations: Chrissie Cloete trading as ChrissieCanDrawSources: Carnaby, T. 2010. Beat about the bush birds. Jacana, Johannesburg, pp 764.Hockey, P.A.R., I Dean, W.R.J. & Ryan, P.G. (Eds). 2005. Roberts Birds of Southern Africa 7th ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. I Ginn, P., McIlleron, G. 2014. The Ultimate Companion for Birding in Southern Africa, Volume 1. The Unlimited, Cape Town.
Hi my name is Sandy, the
White-fronted Plover. Rocky and I
are best of friends as we have a lot in
common. Just like Rocky, I w il stay w ith one
mate my whole life and lay my eggs in scrapes in
the sand. I also feed night and day in the upper
intertidal zone. Both of us
lay camouflaged eggs and
w ill try our best to divert
attention away from our
nests w ith distraction
displays. Unlike rocky, I live on the coastline
as well as inland around lakes and
rivers. Im aslo a lot smaller.