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Ruddy Turnstone

From Opus

Breeding plumage Photo © by AndyMcLong Drag, Seal Sands, Cleveland, England; May 2008
Breeding plumage
Photo © by AndyMc
Long Drag, Seal Sands, Cleveland, England; May 2008

Alternative name: Turnstone

Arenaria interpres


[edit] Identification

Winter plumagePhoto © by Andy Bright Morston, Norfolk, England; November 2004
Winter plumage
Photo © by Andy Bright
Morston, Norfolk, England; November 2004
Photo © by MzunguWellington Point, Brisbane, Queensland, September 2017
Photo © by Mzungu
Wellington Point, Brisbane, Queensland, September 2017

Length 21–26 cm (8¼-10¼ in), wingspan 50–57 cm, weight 84–190 g

  • Relatively small and stocky
  • Short orange legs
  • Short, sharp black bill
  • Bib black with white half-collar during breeding (April-September), all dark brown in winter
  • White underparts, central lower back and rump, and base of tail
  • In flight, wings dark brown with a white wingbar and a white scapular bar; secondary coverts reddish in summer plumage
  • Head white with black mask and blackish crown streaks during breeding, all dark brown in winter
  • Upperparts mottled reddish brown and black during breeding, dark brown in winter
  • Sexes similar, though males brighter than females in summer plumage (slightly more white on head, brighter rufous upperparts)
  • Juvenile similar to winter adult

The summer breeding plumage (from which it gets its name 'ruddy') can be seen for a month or so (mid April to mid May) before they migrate to the Arctic to breed, and again for a month after they return in late summer (August).

[edit] Similar species

Black Turnstone, which occurs with Ruddy Turnstone on the west coast of North America, is structurally very similar, but marginally larger; it is much darker blackish-brown, and in the breeding season has less white on the head, only a small white spot at the base of the bill and a weak white eyebrow. Its legs are also dark brown, rather than orange.

[edit] Distribution

A widely distributed species along shorelines of continents. Breeds on tundra in the extreme northern latitudes of North America, Europe, and Russia; also a small relict population further south in the Baltic Sea and islets in eastern Denmark.

Overwintering range on coasts almost worldwide. Generally rare inland and on fresh water, but fairly common on the shores of the Great Lakes of North America during migration.

[edit] Taxonomy

Formerly considered a plover, it is now classified in the sandpiper family.

[edit] Subspecies

There are two subspecies[1]:

  • A. i. interpres:
  • A. i. morinella:
  • North-eastern Alaska east to north-central Canada; winters southeastern USA to southern South America. Slightly smaller than A. i. interpres.

[edit] Habitat

Rocky shores. Marshy lowland slopes, and tundra. Casual inland on migration.

[edit] Behaviour

Fairly long-lived, with an average around 9 years and a recorded record of 22.

A strong flier that during migration is able to fly from southern Australia to Taiwan in one stretch.

[edit] Diet

The action of flipping over small stones to find food led to its common name. It will take just about anything organic, including insects, carrion, molluscs, eggs, worms, etc.

[edit] Breeding

Monogomous. Individual birds often return to favourite spots year after year.

[edit] Vocalisation

A long rapid trill.

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved February 2016)
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  4. Birdforum thread with link to migration study

[edit] Recommended Citation

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