American Oystercatcher Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A large, thickset shorebird with a long, stout bill, a large head, robust neck, and long, thick legs.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Willet, smaller than a Herring Gull.

    Relative Sizecrow sizedcrow-sized
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 15.8-17.3 in (40-44 cm)
      • Weight: 14.1-24.7 oz (400-700 g)

Regional Differences

Compared with the Atlantic form (palliatus) the northernmost Pacific subspecies (frazari, rare in California) is darker above, lacks white in the inner primaries, and often shows dark mottling below. All of these plumage features could be a result of occasional hybridization with Black Oystercatcher.