The Eurasian oystercatcher also known as the common pied oystercatcher, or palaearctic oystercatcher, or (in Europe) just oystercatcher, is a wader in the oystercatcher bird family. The oystercatcher is one of the largest waders in the region. It is 40–45 cm (16–18 in) long, the bill accounting for 8–9 cm (3.1–3.5 in), and has a wing-span of 80–85 cm (31–33 in). They are obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with black and white plumage, red legs and strong broad red bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs such as mussels or for finding earthworms. Despite its name, oysters do not form a large part of its diet. The bird still lives up to its name, as few if any other wading birds are capable of opening oysters at all.
This is a migratory species over most of its range. The European population breeds mainly in northern Europe, but in winter the birds can be found in north Africa and southern parts of Europe. Although the species is present all year in Ireland, Great Britain and the adjacent European coasts, there is still migratory movement: the large flocks that are found in the estuaries of south-west England in winter mainly breed in northern England or Scotland. Similar movements are shown by the Asian populations. Because of its large numbers and readily identified behaviour, the oystercatcher is an important indicator species for the health of the ecosystems where it congregates. This species is classified as Near Threatened by IUCN.
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