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Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone, Vancouver Island, BC
Ruddy Turnstone, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo Copyright By Pauline Greenhalgh

The Ruddy Turnstone is not common on Vancouver Island but does visit here, and it’s always a thrill to see them on the beach. The ruddy turnstone is a wading bird with a wedge-shaped bill and fairly short orange legs. The back and wings are gray-brown with black mottling. The head is brownish with white streaks.

The breast is black with a white patch on the sides. The belly is white. It has a white wing bar and white rump which is seen in flight. The tail has dark bands on the tail coverts and near the tip. In the breeding season, the males are more reddish-brown with black markings, and the head is whiter with dark streaks. The female is similar to the male but duller, with a browner head.

The Ruddy Turnstone likes to forage on rocky shores and feeds on aquatic invertebrates, insects, carrion, and other birds’ eggs.

Nests are located on the open ground in wet tundra areas or dry rocky ridges. They are sometimes well concealed among rocks or under shrubs. The female builds the nest, a shallow depression with a sparse lining of leaves. Both parents incubate the four eggs for 22 to 24 days. The young leave the nest shortly after hatching and follow the male to food. They feed themselves, but both parents help protect and tend the young. The female usually departs first, leaving the male to watch over the young until they can fly, typically at 19 to 21 days.

Breeds along the coasts of western Alaska. Found in winter along the coast of Vancouver Island right down to northern California. Also across northern Europe and Asia and the east coast of North America from Greenland down to Maryland.

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