Haematopus palliatus is a large shorebird, easily identified by its black and white body and long, orange beak. Its head and breast are black and the back wings, and tail are greyish-black. The underparts are white, as are feathers on the inner part of the wing which become visible during flight. The irises of this bird are yellow and the eyes have orange orbital rings. The legs are long and pink in color. It prefers sandy areas, and it is a common sight in the beaches of the Maldonado and Rocha departments in the southeast of Uruguay, where it feeds mainly on shellfish and crabs.