The Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is a small wading bird – a wader – that lives in wetlands. It is in the Scolopacidae family of Sandpipers.
The Ruddy Turnstone varies in colours of brown with a pattern of black and white. Its head is mainly white with black streaks on its crown, with a black pattern on its face. It has a slightly upturned wedge-shaped dark beak. Its chest is mainly black with white patches on the side, and white underparts. Its rump and tail have dark bands. Its legs are bright orange. The female is duller in colour than the male, with a browner head that has more streaks.
It measures 22-24 centimetres (8-9 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 50-57 centimetres (20-22 inches). Its beak is about 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) long.
The Ruddy Turnstone lives near the sea in Europe, Asia, and America in a range of habitats and climates, although it particularly likes rocky or stony shores. It is a highly migratory bird, breeding in the northern parts of Eurasia and North America.
It feeds on insects, the meat of dead animals, eggs, and plant materials. Sometimes it eats crabs, shrimp, molluscs (such as snails), and worms. It often flips, or turns, stones over to forage for food – and that is how it got its name, the turnstone.
The Ruddy Turnstone makes a nest is a shallow dent on the stony ground, and lines it with leaves. Several pairs of birds may build nests close together. The female lays 2-5 eggs, which hatch after 22-24 days. The female usually sits on the eggs, but the male may help sometimes.
The chicks are born precocial, with some feathers, and are able to leave the nest soon after they hatch. They are buff on the upperparts and dark-grey with white on the underparts. They become independent after 19-21 days.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM