Ruddy turnstone

   ›      ›   Ruddy turnstone - Arenaria interpres

The ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) belongs to the family of sandpipers, snipes and turnstones, the Scolopacidae.

The ruddy turnstone is distributed in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Australia. These turnstone species flips over stones and weeds to get at prey items hiding underneath. These turnstones are polytypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Ruddy Turnstone Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is a medium-sized sandpiper, measuring 20 to 25 cm in length and weighing 85 to 190 grams. The wingspan is 50 to 60 cm.

The ruddy turnstone has black-white patches on the head, face, neck, throat and breast. The breeding turnstones have reddish brown upperparts with black patches.

The tail is white with a broad ruddy sub-terminal band. The underparts are white. In non-breeders the upperparts are grayish brown. Juveniles have pale brown head.

The slightly upturned bill is dark, long and wedge-shaped. The irises are blackish. The legs and feet are short and are bright orange. The turnstone call is a loud, repeated "chew" or "kiu" or a chattering alarm sound.
Bird World - Image of Ruddy turnstone - Arenaria interpres
1.Bird World - Ruddy turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Image by Juan Emilio

Bird World - Image of Ruddy turnstone - Arenaria interpres
2.Bird World - Ruddy turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Image by Hans Hillewaert

Bird World - Image of Ruddy turnstone - Arenaria interpres
3.Bird World - Ruddy turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Image by Tim Bowman

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The ruddy turnstone is distributed in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, southeast Asia and Australia.

The ruddy turnstone subspecies A. i. interpres is distributed in Arctic Alaska (USA), north Canada, north Greenland (Denmark) and Arctic Europe and Asia. They winter in coastal Africa, western Europe, southern Asia and Australia.

The turnstone subspecies A. i. morinella breeds in Alaska and Arctic Canada. It winters in southern North America, Central America and South America.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the ruddy turnstone in USA are, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Delaware Coastal Zone and Delaware Bayshore Region. The IBA in Canada is Foxe Basin Islands.

The IBA of these species in France are, Traicts et marais salants de la Presqu'île Guérandaise, Baies de Morlaix et de Carantec, Baie de Quiberon, Baie de Goulven and Anse du Fiers d'Ars en Ré.

The IBA of the ruddy turnstone species in Iceland are, Stafnes-Gardur, Skerjafjördur, Melrakkaslétta and Alftanes-Akrar. The IBA in Sweden are, Holmöarna Archipelago, Coastal area of Eastern Gotland and Archipelago of Stockholm.

Ecosystem and habitat

The ruddy turnstone species does not normally occur in forest. It normally occur in altitudes between 0 to 500 meters.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of the turnstone species include tundra grasslands, tundra wetlands, intertidal marshes, tidal mudflats, coral reefs, shorelines, estuaries and freshwater wetlands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the ruddy turnstone species consists mainly of invertebrates. Flies, larval midges, butterflies, moths, caterpillars, wasps, bees, ants, beetles and spiders are the primary food of breeding turnstones.

They also feed on crustaceans, molluscs, annelids, echinoderms, small fish, carrion and birds eggs (del Hoyo et al. 1996). They form feeding flocks especially in tidal areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the ruddy turnstone species is from May to early July in most of its breeding range. This species is monogamous and breeds as solitary pairs.

The breeding sites are found in Arctic tundra, coastal plains, marshes and bare rocks near water bodies. The nest is a shallow depression on high ground.

The clutch may contains two to five pale green-brown eggs with dark mottling. The female incubates the eggs. The chicks hatch out after 22 to 24 days. The hatchlings can feed themselves. They fledge after 19 to 21 days.

Migration and movement patterns

The ruddy turnstone species is fully migratory. Breeding populations occur in USA (Alaska), Canada, Greenland (Denmark) and Arctic Europe and Asia. After breeding, they move southwards for wintering.

The turnstone species winters in the warm coastal regions of Americas, Australia, Africa, Arabian peninsula, Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, southern China and several tropical Pacific islands. They return to the breeding grounds in early summer.

Ruddy turnstone - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Arenaria interpres
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Tringa Interpres Linnaeus, 1758
  • Family: Scolopacidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia,
  • Vernacular names: English: Ruddy turnstone, Chinese: 翻石鹬, French: Tournepierre à collier, German: Steinwälzer, Spanish: Vuelvepiedras común, Russian: Камнешарка, Japanese: キョウジョシギ
  • Other names: Ruddy Turnstone, Turnstone
  • Distribution: Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, larval insects, beetles, spiders, crustaceans, molluscs, worms
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is estimated at 460,000 to 730,000 individual birds (Wetlands International 2015). The overall population trend of the species is considered to be decreasing.

In most of its range, this species is reported to be very common. The generation length is 7.3 years. Its distribution size is about 27,600,000

Ecosystem degradation, ecosystem conversion, severe weather, climate change, sport hunting, capture for pet-trade, nest predation and avian influenza are the main threats that may endanger the survival of the species.

IUCN and CITES status

The ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the turnstone species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Arenaria interpres
Species:A. interpres
Binomial name:Arenaria interpres
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The two recognized subspecies of the ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) are:
A. i. interpres (Linnaeus, 1758) and
A. i. morinella (Linnaeus, 1766).
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Juan Emilio | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 10/22/18
2.Ruddy turnstone image source: (cropped)
Image author: Hans Hillewaert | License: CC BY-SA 4.0 as on 10/22/18
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Tim Bowman | License: Public domain as on 10/22/18
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