Oystercatcher, any member of a family of large shorebirds distantly related to plovers. Oystercatchers inhabit beaches, mud flats, and salt marshes along temperate and tropical coasts. European species migrate southward for the winter, but North American species do not. Oystercatchers are 17 to 21 inches (43 to 53 cm) long and have orange-red bills and pink legs. They are black or blackish-brown with patches of white. They feed mainly on bivalves (oysters, mussels, and clams), which they either pry open by inserting their wedgelike bill into the narrow opening between the shells or break open by hammering the shells with their bills. The American oystercatcher is found from Massachusetts to Florida and along the southern coasts of Texas, Louisiana, and California. The black oystercatcher is found from the Aleutian Islands to Baja California. It is the only all-black species. The common oystercatcher, ranging from Europe to southern Asia, migrates to North Africa in winter.
Oystercatchers belong to the family Haemotopodidae. The American oystercatcher is Haemotopus palliatus; black, H. bachmani; common, H. ostralegus.Oystercatchers have orange-red bills and pink legs.