Ruddy Turnstone

Arenaria interpres
A Ruddy Turnstone specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (8-10 inches) plover, the Ruddy Turnstone in summer is most easily identified by its orange back and legs, pale breast, white head with black patches on the face and throat. In winter, this species becomes dull brown above and white below. Birds in summer plumage are unmistakable, while winter birds may be separated from other dull shorebirds by this species’ short, upturned bill. Male and female Ruddy Turnstones are similar to one another in all seasons. The Ruddy Turnstone occurs throughout much of the world. In the New World, this species breeds in the high arctic of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland, wintering along the coasts of the Americas from mid-latitude North America south to southern South America. In the Old World, this species breeds along the edge of the Arctic Ocean, wintering from Europe south to South Africa and from South Asia south to Australasia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Ruddy Turnstones breed in wet areas on the arctic tundra. In winter, this species may be found along the coast on sandy or rocky beaches. Ruddy Turnstones primarily eat small insects during the summer months, switching to crustaceans and small fish during the winter. Due to this species’ remote breeding grounds, most birdwatchers are only familiar with Ruddy Turnstones during the winter. At that time, this species is most easily seen while walking or running along the shoreline, turning over stones while foraging for food (a behavior which gave this species its name). Ruddy Turnstones are most active during the day.

DC Information

Common migrant April to June and late July to November. Seen on rocky shores and tidal flats. Winter-plumaged birds lack the reddish back of the spring-plumaged ones. Sexes are alike.

Specimen Information

Date:  5/16/1892
Collected By:  Wm Palmer/Edward J Brown
Locality:  Cobbs Island, VA
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  293370

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC84915 Arenaria interpres (Ruddy Turnstone)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC25124 Arenaria interpres (Ruddy Turnstone)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC25125 Arenaria interpres (Ruddy Turnstone)