Head, neck, and upper parts black: breast and abdomen white: bill and feet red.
H. ostralegus, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. 11. p. 531. Pied Oyster-Catcher, Mont. Orn. Diet, and Supp. Oyster-Catcher, Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. II. p. 113. Common Oyster-Catcher, Selb. Illust. vol. 11. p. 200. pl. 33.
Entire length sixteen inches ten lines: length of the bill (from the forehead) two inches nine lines, (from the gape) two inches ten lines and a half; of the tarsus one inch eleven lines; of the tail four inches two lines; from the carpus to the end of the wing ten inches nine lines: breadth, wings extended, thirty-two inches.
(Winter plumage,) Head, neck, upper part of the breast, back, wings, and extremity of the tail, deep black; a collar on the throat, and a small spot beneath the eye, white: under parts, rump, basal portion of the tail and quill feathers, and a transverse bar on the wings, pure white: bill, and orbits, bright orange-red: irides crimson: feet purplish red. The summer plumage is distinguished by the absence of the white collar; in other respects similar. (Young of the year). "The black parts of the plumage shaded with brown, the feathers being edged with this last colour; the white dull and soiled: bill and orbits dusky brown: irides brown: feet livid gray." Temm. (Egg). Yellowish stone-colour, spotted with ash-gray and dark brown: long, diam, two inches two lines; trans, diam. one inch six lines.
Common on the coast, assembling in small flocks during the winter season. Is never found inland. Feeds principally on marine insects and the bivalve mollusca. Makes no nest, but deposits its eggs, two to four in number, on the bare ground above high-water mark. The male bird has a loud screaming note during the season of incubation.
Lath. Syn. vol. II. p. 793. pl. 68.
An individual of this species is recorded by Montagu, in the Supplement to his Ornithological Dictionary, as having been taken in Surrey; it had, however, probably escaped from confinement, being a native of South America.