Family Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)


Chatham Oystercatcher (Haematopus chathamensis)


French: Huîtrier des Chatham German: Chathamausternfischer Spanish: Ostrero de las Chatham

Haematopus ostralegus chathamensis

E. J. O. Hartert

, 1927,

Chatham Islands


Has frequently been considered a race of H. unicolor or of H. ostralegus; differentiation relatively weak, and species status perhaps questionable. Recent study of mtDNA, however, supported treatment as a separate species#R. Form H. ostralegus finschi has on occasion been associated with present species. Monotypic.


Chatham Is, E of New Zealand, where restricted to coasts of Chatham, Mangere, Rangatira (South-east I) and Pitt; occasionally at Star Keys#R.

Descriptive notes

47–49 cm; male averages 540 g, female 640 g. Black frontal coloration extends well down breast, and transition to white lower breast is mottled, both features also... read more


Most-frequently heard call a repeated over-slurred piping whistle “peep” or a doubled “pi-peep”.... read more


Mostly found on rocky shores, less often on sandy or gravel beaches; sometimes nest in sites with... read more

Food and feeding

Prey includes the anemone Isactina tenebrosa, an unusual prey type for oystercatchers; also polyplacophorans (Chiton... read more


Breeds Oct–Mar, with most laying Oct–Dec. Nest a scrape in ground, lined or unlined; often in sheltered site under overhanging... read more


Mostly sedentary and territorial throughout the year; juvenile dispersal up to 40 km between... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Population increased from c. 50 birds in early 1970s (of which almost half were on Rangatira) to 100–110 birds in breeding season of 1987/88, including... read more

Recommended citation

Hockey, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Chatham Oystercatcher (Haematopus chathamensis). 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 5 December 2019).