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Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres


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Ruddy Turnstone, breeding
credit: Peter Wallack/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT In summer, has bold patches of orange-red on back, white underparts, and bold black and white markings on head. Male has brighter back colors than female and more distinct black head markings. In winter, has mainly gray-brown upperparts, including head and neck. Blackish, rounded breast band shows clear demarcation from white underparts. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but upperparts are paler and back feathers have pale fringes.

Dimensions Length: 8-10" (20-25 cm)

Habitat Locally common high Arctic tundra breeder. Outside breeding season, found on range of coastal habitats; rocky shores with extensive strandline are ideal.

Observation Tips Easy to see on coasts, Aug-Apr; early arrivals and late departures sometimes seen in summer plumage.

Range Great Lakes, Southwest, New England, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Southeast, Alaska, Plains, Eastern Canada, Northwest, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Western Canada, California

Voice Utters a rolling tuk-ut-ut in flight.

Discussion Robust and pugnacious shorebird. Short, triangular bill is used to turn stones and tideline debris in search of seashore invertebrates. Unobtrusive when feeding among seaweed and rocks. All birds have reddish orange legs and striking black and white pattern in flight. Sexes are similar.