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Merlin Bird ID

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    Ruddy Turnstone

    Silhouette ShorebirdsShorebirds

    Ruddy Turnstone

    Arenaria interpres
    • ORDER: Charadriiformes
    • FAMILY: Scolopacidae
    Basic Description

    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. These long-distance migrants breed in the arctic tundra, but spend the off seasons on rocky shorelines and sandy beaches on both North American coasts (as well as South America, Eurasia, Africa, and Australia). They use their stout, slightly upturned bill to flip debris on the beach to uncover insects and small crustaceans.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Ruddy TurnstoneRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    To find a Ruddy Turnstone, hit the beach; almost any time of the year will do, but they are more numerous in the spring and fall. Ruddy Turnstones also show up at inland marshes and lakeshores, but they are more common on the coast. They don’t wade in deeper waters, so be on the lookout for them at the water’s edge, where the high tide deposits shells, rocks, seaweed, and other debris. At higher tides when there’s less exposed shoreline, look for them in rocky outcrops along the shore. Most often you can get good looks at turnstones with binoculars but as with many shorebirds, having a spotting scope will help you get better looks without disturbing them.

    Other Names
    • Vuelvepiedras Rojizo (Spanish)
    • Tournepierre à collier (French)
    • Cool Facts