|† see also: wader|
The two turnstones are distinctive medium-sized wading birds. They are high Arctic breeders, and are migratory. These are chunky powerful birds, with strong necks and bills adapted for their feeding techique. As the name implies, these species readily turn stones or seaweed looking for hidden inveterbrates. They are strictly coastal, preferring stony beaches to sand, and are often found with Purple Sandpipers.
They are striking in flight, with white patches on the back, wings and tail.
The Ruddy Turnstone (or just Turnstone in Europe) has a circumpolar distribution, and is a very long distance migrant, wintering on coasts as far south as South Africa and Australia. It is thus a common sight on coasts almost everywhere in the world.
In breeding plumage, this is a smart bird, with a black-and-white head, chestnut back, white underparts and red legs. The drabber winter plumage is basically brown above and white below.
This is a generally tame bird and is an opportunist feeder. Unlike most waders, it will scavenge, and has a phenomenal list of recorded food items, including human corpses and coconut.
The call is a staccato "tuck- tuck- tuck".
The Black Turnstone has a similar structure to its widespread relative, but has black upperparts and chest, and white below. It has a much more restricted range than Ruddy, breeding in western Alaska, and wintering mainly on the Pacific coast of the USA.
Its habits are generally similar to Ruddy, but it has a snipe-like aerial breeding display, and a higher-pitched, more fluid call.
- Family: Scolopacidae (part)
- Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Black Turnstone, Arenaria melanocephala