The African black Oystercatcher is South Africa’s second rarest coastal breeding bird. The total population is less than 5 000 birds. Their glossy black plumage, bright red eyes, beak and legs, and plaintive call make them a distinctive and very appealing species.
African black Oystercatchers occur along the coast and off-shore islands from Namibia to the Eastern Cape. They are usually found on sandy or rocky shores, and less frequently on coastal vleis and lagoons.
Oystercatchers almost always occur in pairs or small groups. The breeding season is from September to March. They nest on exposed sand, rocks, next to dried kelp or among stones. Usually two eggs are laid, of a greenish or buff stony colour with dark brown spots, which provides an effective camouflage against predators.
The name Oystercatcher is misleading as they feed mainly on mussels, limpets, whelks, crustaceans and various worms, rarely if ever taking oysters.