Pied Oystercatcher; Torea (Haematopus finschi)
The pied oystercatcher breeds in the South Island but winters throughout the country. At the estuary it can be seen on the mudflats at low tide, usually near the tideline, and roosting on the sandspit visible from Dawick St at high tide.
The pied oystercatcher is a plump black and white bird with a red eyes, a red or pink beak, and pink legs. The upperparts and upper breast are black and the lowerparts white. The pied oystercatcher can be distinguished from the variable oystercatcher because it has a sharp boundary between the black and white plumage on the breast and a white tab that comes up in front of the wing when the wings are folded. It feeds primarily on molluscs, probing the mudflat surface with its beak to find them. Usually seen in groups, the pied oystercatcher is often seen going through displays within the group. A frequent sight is one or more of them running around with the back hunched and the head down while making shrill piping noises.
Variable Oystercatcher; Toreapango (Haematopus unicolor)
At the estuary it can be seen on the mudflats at low tide, usually near the tideline, and, at high tide, roosting on the sandspit visible from Dawick St.
The variable oystercatcher is very similar to the pied oystercatcher in looks and behaviour. The plumage is variable: it may be entirely black, pied like the pied oystercatcher, or intermediate between the two forms. The pied forms can be distinguished from the pied oystercatcher by the smudged boundary between the black and white plumage on the breast and the lack of a white
tab in front of the wing.