The Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is a medium-sized shorebird that belongs to the family Scolopacidae. Adults are about 8 inches long, have a wingspan of 20 inches, and weigh between 3.5 and 4.4 ounces. They have a distinctive appearance with a heavily streaked chest, black and white head, and short orange legs. During the breeding season, their plumage is mottled brown, black, and white, while in the non-breeding season, their feathers are more uniform in color.
One of the most striking distinguishing field marks of the Ruddy Turnstone is their bill. It is thick, short, and slightly upturned, and it is black at the base and orange at the tip. Another distinguishing feature is their habit of flipping over stones and other objects in search of prey, hence their name. Ruddy Turnstones also have a distinctive flight pattern, with quick, shallow wing beats that alternate with short glides.
Ruddy Turnstones breed in the Arctic and subarctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They migrate to their wintering grounds in coastal areas of Central and South America, Africa, and southern Asia, covering up to 15,000 miles round trip. During migration, they can be seen along coasts and in estuaries, where they feed on small invertebrates such as mollusks, crustaceans, and insects.
In North America, the Ruddy Turnstone is a common migrant and winter resident along both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. They can be seen in a variety of habitats, including rocky and sandy shores, mudflats, and beaches. They are also sometimes seen in inland areas near large bodies of water, such as lakes and reservoirs.
Although the Ruddy Turnstone is not currently considered threatened, their populations are declining in some areas due to habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and climate change. Conservation efforts are underway to protect their breeding and wintering grounds and reduce disturbances during migration.