Family Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)

Least Concern

African Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini)


French: Huîtrier de Moquin German: Schwarzer Austernfischer Spanish: Ostrero negro africano
Other common names: African Black Oystercatcher

Haematopus moquini


, 1856,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Has been considered conspecific with †H. meadewaldoi or with H. ostralegus, or with both. Monotypic.


N Namibia S to Cape of Good Hope and E to KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, and N to S Angola, but in latter apparently only as a regular non-breeding visitor#R.

Descriptive notes

42–45 cm; male 582–757 g, female 646–800 g. All-dark oystercatcher with red eye, orange-red eyering and bill, and deep pinkish-red legs. Generally, black... read more


Considered very similar to that of H. ostralegus, but most calls rather flatter in tone,... read more


Typically occurs on rocky and sandy shores, less frequent in estuaries and coastal lagoons.... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes limpets, mussels and other bivalves, polychaetes, whelks and crustaceans (total of 30 species of gastropods recorded), with... read more


Lays Sept–Apr, mostly Dec–Feb; breeds slightly later in Namibia than in South Africa, but start date in any given year/locality... read more


Adults sedentary, although some undertake small-scale seasonal movements (of up to 15 km) and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon, with total population of 6670 birds in early 2000s, roughly equivalent to 4450 mature individuals, but apparently now... read more

Recommended citation

Hockey, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). African Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).