04 May 2009

Torea pango [variable oystercatcher]

Variable oystercatcherWe saw two pairs of these on Kapiti Island just over a week ago, but I photographed this bird a while ago on the eastern coast of Wellington harbour, south of Eastbourne. "Pango" is the Maori word for "black", but not all variable oystercatchers (Haematopus unicolor) have completely black plumage (hence the "variable"): some have white markings and superficially resemble South Island pied oystercatchers (SIPO) (Haematopus finschi). Both species of oystercatchers in New Zealand are endemic; the torea pango population, although small (about 4000 birds), is increasing, so the IUCN classifies it as "Least concern".

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor


the watercats said...

that is a beautiful thing!.. and unlike the Weka, has a very serine eye.. we get pied oyster catchers on the coast here, one of my favourite birds!

Anne-Marie said...

Oh! Hello! I love torea-pango, they're probably my favourite shore bird. Such entertaining little characters ... they always look like they're about to give you a good telling off.

Great photo - both of the bird and of its environment. Thanks, you made me smile.

pohanginapete said...

Watercats, it's not obvious in this photo but in others you can see the pupil of these birds has a kind of notch near the bottom. Perhaps it helps them look down? I really don't know, nor have I hunted around to find out, but it's a curious feature. Your pied oystercatchers will probably look similar to ours, and I fully understand why they're one of your favourites :^)

Anne-Marie, I know you love these birds and thought of you when I posted the photo. Glad you liked it :^)