Ruddy turnstone

Ruddy turnstone
Arenaria interpres
(Photo from Purple “O” Purple)

Common name:

Order Charadriiformes
Family Scolopacidae

Ruddy turnstones breed in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, from Alaska, through the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, and into Scandinavia and northern Russia. They migrate south to winter along the coasts of all continents except Antarctica.

These birds are 21-26 cm long and have a wingspan of 50-57 cm. They weigh 85-150 g.

They breed near the coast or up to several kilometres inland in the high Arctic, nesting on coastal plains, marshes and tundra and showing a preference for mosaics of bare rock, clay or shingle and vegetation near water or in areas that remain damp until late summer. During winter and migration they are found along rocky and shingle shores, breakwaters, sandy beaches with storm-racked seaweed, short-grass saltmarshes, sheltered inlets, estuaries, mangroves swamps, exposed reefs and mudflats with beds of molluscs.

During the breeding season they mostly eat insects, including larval and adult Diptera, larval Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, but also spiders and, occasionally, also taking vegetable matter. Outside the breeding season they eat insects, crustaceans, molluscs, annelids, echinoderms, small fish, carrion and birds eggs.

Ruddy turnstones breed in May-August. They form monogamous pairs and nest is a shallow scrape on the ground, lined with a small amount of vegetation, often located on a slight ridge or hummock. There the female lays 4 green-brown eggs with dark brown markings, which she mostly incubates alone for 22-24 days. The chicks are able to leave the nest and feed themselves within a day of hatching, but the adults will brood them and defend them from predators until they fledge, 19-21 days after hatching.

IUCN – LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 460.000-800.000 individuals. The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends, and in North America the trend is increasing. They are known to suffer nest predation from feral American mink Neovison vison in some regions but overall the ruddy turnstone is not considered threatened.

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