The Ruddy Turnstone is a compact shorebird with distinctive plumages and bright orange legs. It has a short, wedge-shaped bill that it uses in its unique foraging style. The male in breeding plumage has a rufous back, striped with black and white. The belly is white, and the head is boldly patterned in black and white. A bold, black ‘U’ in front of the wing is a prominent feature on the male in breeding plumage, and is visible, although less so, in all other plumages. In flight, the Ruddy Turnstone shows white at the base of the tail, on the wings, and on the back. Females and males in non-breeding plumage are duller than breeding males, their backs mottled gray-brown rather than rufous.