Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpres

adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Adrian & Jane Binns/VIREO
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
Brian Sullivan/VIREO
breeding adults
Doug Wechsler/VIREO
Ruddy Turnstone



8-10" (20-25 cm). A stocky shorebird with orange legs. Upperparts mainly rusty red in summer, brown in winter; underparts white. Face and breast have conspicuous black markings, duller but still visible in winter. Bold pattern of black and white visible in flight.


A metallic but musical netticut or kek-kek.


calls near nest #1
various calls of migrating birds
alarm calls of migrating birds
calls near nest #2


Breeds on coastal tundra; winters on rocky, pebbly, and sandy coasts and beaches.


Breeds in northwestern Alaska and islands of Canadian Arctic. Winters on coasts from Oregon and Connecticut southward and along Gulf. Also in Eurasia.


In their nesting territories neighboring turnstones display head to head, the harlequin pattern of the face and black and white fanned tail serving as colorful banners. Turnstones are named for their method of feeding, in which they walk along the beach, deftly overturning small stones and pebbles and seizing the animals hiding underneath. They also dig holes in the sand, often larger than themselves, in pursuit of burrowing crustaceans. Although Ruddy Turnstones are usually encountered in small groups, they are very abundant; during the winter they scatter over a huge area, regularly occurring as far south as Australia, New Zealand, southern Africa, and South America, as well as on remote islands in the South Pacific, where they sometimes prey on nesting terns' eggs.


Breeds on coastal tundra; winters on rocky, pebbly, and sandy coasts and beaches.

Similar Species

adult, breeding


10" (25 cm). A stocky, rock-dwelling shorebird, slightly larger than Black Turnstone. Breeding adults have blackish upperparts spotted with white and chestnut, whitish underparts barred with black.

adult, nonbreeding

Black Turnstone

9" (23 cm). Resembles Ruddy Turnstone in general patterns.

adult, breeding

Red Knot

10.5" (27 cm). A robin-sized shorebird. Breeding adults have pinkish-rufous face and underparts, dark brown upperparts with pale feather edgings. Fall birds gray above, whitish below.

adult, breeding

Purple Sandpiper

9" (23 cm). A stocky sandpiper of wave-lashed rocks. Breeding birds finely streaked with brown and black on head and neck, heavily spotted on breast.

adult, breeding Pribilof Islands

Rock Sandpiper

8-9" (20-23 cm). A small, rock-dwelling sandpiper. Winter birds plain slate-gray on head, breast, and upperparts; dark bill has pale base.


9-11" (23-28 cm). Our largest "ringed" plover. Brown above and white below, with 2 black bands across breast, long legs, and relatively long tail. In flight, shows rusty uppertail coverts and rump.


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