Ruddy Turnstones

A medium-sized colorful sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstones are easily identifiable with their bright orange legs and back’s rufous-color pattern that looks similar to that of a calico cat.

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Ruddy Turnstones are one of the most northerly-breeding shorebird species, breeding during the summer across the Arctic Tundra, from Alaska to Greenland, on Svalbard, and from Scandinavia to Siberia.

These long-distance migrants then spend their winters along the coastlines of the United States, Central America, South America, Australia, Western Europe, Africa, and South Asia.

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To cover those vast distances between their breeding and nonbreeding grounds, Ruddy Turnstones need to fly very fast, and average between 27-47 miles per hour.

Ruddy Turnstone juveniles need to grow up and learn to fly quickly.  They take their first flight when they are about 19-21 day old.  Two days later, they begin their thousands of miles’ migration.  Not much time!

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As their name suggests, they use their slightly upturned bill to flip over stones and other objects to find insects and small crustaceans.

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Ruddy Turnstones have special feet that are somewhat spiny, with short, sharply curved toenails that help them hold on to the slippery rocks.

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I knew there was a reason why they weren’t slipping!

The Ruddy Turnstone is one of two Turnstone species.  The second is the Black Turnstone, limited to the Pacific coastline from Alaska to South America.


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