1450. Haematopus ostralegus.
The Sea-pie or Oystercatcher.
Haematopus ostralegus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 257 (1766); Blyth, Cat. p. 264; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 659; Hume, S. F. i, p. 234; Hayes Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 416; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 154; Butler, S. F. v, pp. 212, 232, 236; ix, p. 427 ; Hume, Cat. no. 862 ; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 83 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 987; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 377; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 339 ; Seebohm, Charadr. p. 301; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 107. Haematopus osculans, Swinh. P. Z. S. 1871, p. 405; Sharpe, Cat.B. M. xxiv, p. 111.
Darya gajpaon, H.; Yerri kali ulanka, Tel.
Coloration. Head and neck all round, upper back, scapulars, and tertiaries black ; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts, and lower parts from upper breast white; edge of wing, terminal portions of median coverts, the greater secondary coverts, and the inner secondary quills white, forming a wing-band; primary coverts black; primaries the same, except part of the inner web and a lanceolate white spot on the shaft and outer web, commencing as a streak on the first primary and increasing inwards ; tail white at base, black at end.
Young birds are browner black, and have a broad band of white on the throat.
Bill bright reddish orange, dingy and yellowish at the tip ; irides red; eyelids orange-red; legs and feet brownish purple (Hume).
Length 16 ; tail 4; wing 10; tarsus 2.1 ; bill from gape 3.25-3.
Distribution. The greater part of Europe and Asia, chiefly on sea-coasts. A winter visitor to India, common on the coast of Sind, Cutch, and Kattywar; less common on the west coast of India and rare on the east coast, in Ceylon and in Burma. I do not regard the Chinese and Japanese H. osculans, to which an Arrakanese skin is referred by Sharpe, as worth specific distinction. It only differs in having a little less white on the earlier primaries, the difference in length of bill not being constant. It is probably to some extent intermediate between H. ostralegus and H. longirostris.
Habits, &c. The Oystercatcher is found singly or in parties, and keeps much to rocks between tide-marks, feeding on molluscs and Crustacea; it often visits fields or meadows near the sea, but is rarely seen far from the coast. It is a wary bird, utters a clear loud whistling note, and breeds in the North of Europe and on the Caspian.