Oystercatchers are stocky birds with bright eye-rings and long colourful bills. Their diet is much more varied than their name implies. There are three species in New Zealand.
The pied oystercatcher or torea is the most common oystercatcher in New Zealand, numbering around 112,000 birds in 1994.The New Zealand subspecies (Haematopus ostralegus finschi) is the South Island pied oystercatcher or SIPO. It has a black head and upper surfaces, and a white belly.The variable oystercatcher (Haematopus unicolor, torea or toreapango) is found on rocky and sandy beaches. It is rare – there were around 3,500 birds in 1994, and they are found only in New Zealand.With a population of only 220 birds in 2004, the endemic Chatham Island oystercatcher (Haematopus chathamensis) is endangered.This species is confined to the Chatham Islands and South East and Pitt islands. They measure 48 centimetres and weigh 600 grams.