Ruddy Turnstone

Did you know?

Ruddy Turnstones use their strong, wedge-shaped bills to turn over rocks and seaweed, looking for small sand-hoppers or crustaceans sheltering underneath.

Calls
In flight, a rapid 'trik-tuk-tuk-tuk. They are noisy and quarrelsome, with a sharp 'kittick' or rapid chuckling 'tak-a-tuk-tuk'.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
22cm
Maximum Size: 
24cm
Average size: 
23cm
Average weight: 
115g
Breeding season: 
May to August
Clutch Size: 
4
Incubation: 
24 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
NT: 
QLD: 
SA: 
TAS: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
129
What does it look like?
Description: 

The Ruddy Turnstone is a stocky medium-sized wader with short orange-red legs. The bill is wedge-shaped and slightly up-tilted. The breast is distinctively marked with black or brown and pale areas, almost like tortoise shell, with a white breast. The brown upperparts turn a rich reddish-brown when breeding and the bands on the face and neck turn black. In flight there is a distinctive black and white pattern. This species is also known as Turnstone, Sea-Dotterel and Calico or Beach Bird.

Similar species: 

The distinctive marking and dark and white pattern in flight make the Ruddy Turnstone unmistakeable, along with their habitat of turning over stones.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

In Australia, Ruddy Turnstones are widespread around the coast of the mainland and off-shore islands. They breed on the northern coasts of Europe, Asia and North America. They are found on coastlines around the world, when not breeding or on passage.

Habitat: 

The Ruddy Turnstone is found singly or in small groups along the coastline and only occasionally inland. They are mainly found on exposed rocks or reefs, often with shallow pools, and on beaches. In the north, they are found in a wider range of habitats, including mudflats.

Seasonal movements: 

After breeding in the northern hemisphere, Ruddy Turnstones migrate south. There are five breeding populations. The birds migrating to Australia breed in east Siberia and west Alaska, moving through south-east Asia then south to Australia. Some birds appear to migrate south across the Pacific Ocean, island-hopping to the east coast and to New Zealand, probably returning north again via east Asia. They visit Australia from about September to May.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

Ruddy Turnstones feed busily, by probing, pecking and poking into cracks. They turn over stones and seaweed to find insects, crustaceans, molluscs and spiders. They sometimes eat eggs and carrion (dead things), feeding by day and night.

Breeding: 

They nest on small rocky islands and shores of the far northern hemisphere. The female builds the nest, a shallow depression lined with leaves, usually in the shelter of a rock or bush. The young hatch together and are mobile soon after hatching.

Living with us

Threats on passage (the migration route to Australia) include economic and social pressures such as wetland destruction and change, pollution and hunting.

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