Fun Ruddy Turnstone Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Jan 31, 2024 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
One of the interesting ruddy turnstone facts is that they are colorful birds with small stature.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.1 Min

A ruddy turnstone is a small bird with contrasting colors of black and white. The birds, while flying, looks like a white wing bar. The turnstone makes chattering alarm calls during the breeding season. The young birds are cute with a pale brown head and the upper feathers with fringes appear as scales. They are very colorful birds and have two subspecies. These subspecies are called Arenaria interpres and Arenaria marinella.

They are diurnal in character which means that they are most active during the day. These birds are quite territorial and turn very aggressive during the season of breeding. They draw their names from their special habit. They have a unique habit of flipping stones while looking for food.

These birds have quite a stable population. According to the Environment Canada surveys, the bird population decreased considerably during the '70s and faced several threats during winter and migration. However, the number has increased and the species is now found widespread due to the safeguarding of their habitats where they successfully breed after migration. Around 235,000 birds are breeding in North America.

You'll find in this article information about ruddy turnstone migration, ruddy turnstone diet, ruddy turnstone habitat, and ruddy turnstone winter plumage.

You may also check out the fact files on the grackle and starling from Kidadl.

Ruddy Turnstone Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a ruddy turnstone?

The ruddy turnstone is a small bird.

What class of animal does a ruddy turnstone belong to?

The ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) belongs to the class Aves and of order Charadriiformes.

How many ruddy turnstones are there in the world?

According to the Canadian Wildlife Service, there are around 450,000 ruddy turnstones in the world.

Where does a ruddy turnstone live?

Ruddy turnstones build their nest in the high Arctic tundra of Eurasia, South America, south of Asia, and North America. They are mainly found wintering along with coastal areas, beaches, and off-shore islands towards African wintering grounds during migration and winter.

What is a ruddy turnstone's habitat?

The habitat of a ruddy turnstone varies according to the season. During summer, its habitat includes beaches, jetties, mudflats, coastal and rocky shores of North America. Its habitat during migration and winter favors rocky jetties, beaches, rocky North American shorelines, and off-shore islands covered with seaweeds. They usually migrate to wintering grounds for breeding.

Who do ruddy turnstones live with?

Ruddy turnstones are usually single or found in small groups wintering along the coastal regions on exposed reefs or rocks, beaches, favoring rocky North American shorelines. They are very occasionally found inland. However, they migrate towards wintering grounds for breeding.

How long does a ruddy turnstone live?

The average lifespan of ruddy turnstones is six to seven years. However, in the wild, around 20 years was the longest recorded lifespan of this species.

How do they reproduce?

Ruddy turnstones arrive in the Arctic tundra in May and June, wintering and building a nest on the breeding grounds and mate. The turnstone's first migration occurs in April as the breeding season starts from April and continues up to September. After mating, females begin laying eggs within seven  to 10 days. They prepare a nest with lichen and leaves. Female birds lay one egg every day, and usually, a clutch consists of four olive splotched or dark brown eggs. The hatching of young turnstones takes place after 22-24 days of incubation. After hatching, the chicks or the young turnstones leave their nest and fledge after 19-21 days.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conservation status of the ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is Least Concern.

Ruddy Turnstone Fun Facts

What do ruddy turnstones look like?

The ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is a stocky and small bird with a wingspan of 19.6- 22.4 in (50- 57 cm). The wedge-shaped bill is long and dark, and slightly upturned. The legs of the bird are pretty short and are bright orange. The plumage follows a harlequin-like pattern of white and black color in all types of seasons. Birds that are breeding have a reddish-brown upper portion with markings of black color. The bird's head is white and black streaks on the crown follow a pattern on the face. The breast portion of the bird is black with patches of white on the sides. The underparts are white that look like a white wing bar during flight. Female birds are slightly dull than male birds, and the head appears browner with streaks.

Non-breeding birds look dull, and the upper portions are dark, gray-brown with a dark head and little white patches. The young birds appear pale brown at the head and fringes on the feathers of the upper portion create a scaly impression.

The Ruddy Turnstone

How cute are they?

Ruddy turnstones of order Charadriiformes are a species of cute birds with the slightly upturned, wedge-shaped bill that ranges from 0.8- 1 in (2 to 2.5 cm) in length and orange legs.

How do they communicate?

Ruddy turnstones of order Charadriiformes communicate by visual displays and different types of calls on the breeding grounds. Visual displays are performed in the air and land to attract mates for breeding that takes place from April. Male birds call more than the female birds, but the calls of both sexes are different. This species of bird is termed noisy.

How big is a ruddy turnstone?

Ruddy turnstones, a species of shorebirds, are small birds. Their lengths range from 8.7-9.4 in (22-24 cm) along with a  20-22 in (50-57 cm) range of wingspan. This species of turnstone is around twice the size of a lesser goldfinch.

How fast can a ruddy turnstone fly?

Ruddy turnstones can fly at speeds that range from 27-47 mph (44-75 kph).

How much does a ruddy turnstone weigh?

The average weight of a ruddy turnstone bird or shorebirds range from 0.2-0.3 lb (85-150 g)

What are the male and female names of the species?

This species of turnstone does not have any distinct name for male and female birds.

What would you call a baby ruddy turnstone?

A baby ruddy turnstone is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Ruddy turnstones, a species of shorebirds, follows a varied diet that includes horseshoe crab eggs, carrion, plant material, and insects. Feeding insects is essential during the breeding season that starts in April. This bird also consumes crustaceans, worms, and mollusks. Ruddy birds also prey on eggs of other species of birds such as ducks, gulls, terns, and other species of turnstones. During migration, turnstones mainly consume eggs of the horseshoe crab.

Are they friendly?

Ruddy turnstones exhibit aggression and territorial defense. These birds adopt various postures indicating dominance. They lower their tail with a hunched stance which shows aggression and is a dominant individual.

Would they make a good pet?

Ruddy turnstones, a species of cute shorebirds with orange legs, might not make a good pet as they exhibit some level of aggression. Their habitat includes Arctic regions or tundra and rocky shorelines which are impossible to provide by a pet owner. Their diet is also varied in different seasons which will pose a problem for the owner. They also undertake migration during breeding to Arctic areas or tundra regions of South America, North America, south of Asia, and northern Europe. Turnstones should remain in the wild.

Did you know...

Ruddy turnstones are not considered extinct, but they faced a decrease in population during the '70s due to several threats in winter and migration. The conservation status, however, changed to Least Concern as their numbers grew. The IUCN assigns the conservation status of this species and efforts are made to safeguard their wintering and breeding grounds. The breeding of North American variety is around 235,000 birds.

Unlike other birds, ruddy turnstones build their nests on grounds with small hollows. The hollow is layered with lichens and leaves.

Ruddy turnstones are aggressive in nature and can chase other predatory birds like seagulls for up to 99.4 mi (160 km).

They complete around 621.4 mi (1000 km) per day during migration and complete around 16777.022 mi (27,000 km) in a single year.

Why is it called a ruddy turnstone?

Ruddy turnstones, a species of shorebirds, get their name from their unique characteristic of turning or slipping over stones to prey organisms hiding underneath. They turn stones to prey on insects, plant materials, and even eggs of the horseshoe crab and other species of birds.

Where do turnstones breed?

Turnstones or shorebirds that are breeding in northern Europe usually undertake their first migration across the North Sea. In the North Sea, they replenish their fat reserves and then continue towards African wintering grounds. Turnstone or shorebirds that are wintering in western Europe undertake breeding in Greenland and Canada. They are also found in the North American coastal shorelines, south of Asia, and South America.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our finch and white-crowned sparrow pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Ruddy Turnstone coloring pages.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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