Conservation assessment and ecology of the Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus


173 – 181

26 August 14

G. Edcudero, S. Ferrari, C. Albrieu, R. Matus, S. Imberti, P. Stoyanoff, A. Webb, M. Castro, M. Abril, L. Benegas, R.I. Guy Morrison, R.K. Ross, P. Edelaar, Humphrey P. Sitters, Lawrence J. Niles, Amanda D. Dey

G. Escudero
Centro Nacional Patagonico, Puerto Madryn, Argentina


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The Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus is a monotypic species endemic to southern Patagonia. Breeding (from September to January−February), it occurs along the coast on the Falklands/Malvinas and to some extent on Tierra del Fuego, but most pairs in continental South America are found at moist inland sites. Little is known about its breeding biology, especially for the continental population. Outside the breeding season, from January−February to August, it occurs exclusively along the coast, and individuals form large non-breeding flocks on the continent of South America. Here birds use both soft and hard substrates where they feed on buried clams and polychaetes as well as mussels, limpets and snails. There is virtually no information on life-history parameters, but individuals seem to be site-faithful to their non-breeding areas, which will facilitate determining these parameters in the future. The species is not currently threatened and numbers seem stable. A relatively small number of coastal sites support a significant part of the non-breeding population, and most of these are under pressure from urban development, disturbance and pollution. Because these pressures are believed to be increasing, we recommend increasing knowledge on all aspects of the biology of the species, to identify breeding areas and habitat, to study its reproductive biology and life-history parameters, to survey non-breeding areas in order to estimate population size and trend, and to establish migratory connectivity between breeding and non-breeding areas. We suggest that simple measures, such as the closure of key feeding and roosting sites, and the enforcement of such measures, could improve its conservation status.