Haematopus ostralegus | Eurasian Oystercatcher | Roilleach



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

The last IUCN Red List assessment, carried out in 2019, notes the Oystercatcher as a ‘Near Threatened’ species on a global scale. Additionally, the population was assessed as decreasing.

Species Biology


The Oystercatcher is a distinctive wader species, identified by its large body with a black head and upperparts, white underparts, vibrant orange-red bill and long, pink legs.

A typical Oystercatcher stands at 40-45 cm in length with a wingspan of 80-86 cm and a weight range of 430-650 grams. 


This species feeds mainly on invertebrates such as cockles and mussels. Additionally, it feeds along grassland habitats where the diet will primarily consist of crane fly larvae and worms.


Suitable breeding habitat for this species includes beaches, dune systems, salt marshes and rocky shores, most on off-shore islands.

Suitable wintering habitats include open sandy coasts.


The female lays a clutch of 2-3 eggs, each weighing approximately 46.5 grams, between mid-April and mid-June. The incubation period for the eggs is 24-27 days and both the male and the female share the incubation.

The young will fledge after 34-37 days.

A typical wild Oystercatcher can expect to live for twelve years with breeding occurring after four years. 


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Resident populations of Oystercatcher are present in Ireland but numbers are bolstered in the winter by visitors from Iceland and the Faeroes.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

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