The Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is a small wading bird, one of two species of Turnstone in the genus Arenaria. It is now classified in the sandpiper family Scolopacidae but was formerly sometimes placed in the plover family Charadriidae. It is a highly migratory bird, breeding in northern parts of Eurasia and North America and flying south to winter on coastlines almost worldwide. It is the only species of Turnstone in much of its range and is often known simply as Turnstone. [Wikipedia]
A shorebird that looks almost like a calico cat, the Ruddy Turnstone’s orange legs and uniquely patterned black-and-white head and chest make them easy to pick out of a crowd. They use their stout, slightly upturned bill to flip debris on the beach to uncover insects and small crustaceans. [All About Birds]
Ruddy Turnstone Facts [All About Birds]
- For shorebirds like the Ruddy Turnstone, getting fat is critical. Unlike humans, which use carbohydrates as fuel, birds use fat to power their migrations. Birds that don’t get fat enough before they depart often leave later and some may not even make it to the breeding or wintering grounds.
- Young Turnstones need to grow up and learn to fly quickly. They take their first flight when they are around 19 days old and fly thousands of miles to the non-breeding grounds 2 days later. To make things harder, their parents will have departed by this time, leaving the youngsters to make their first migration on their own.
- There are about 350 species of shorebirds (order Charadriiformes) in the world, but there are only 2 Turnstones, the Ruddy Turnstone and the Black Turnstone, both of which occur in North America.
- The oldest recorded Ruddy Turnstone was a male, and at least 16 years, 11 months old, when he was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in New Jersey in 2012. He had been banded in Delaware in 2001.