South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Ruddy Turnstone

Arenaria interpres

Length: 9 to 10 inches Wingspan: 17 to 18 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Strong breeding plumage with black and white face, black breast, and white underparts.  Short orange legs and short dark pointed bill.

Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpresThe Ruddy Turnstone can be found along the coastlines of six continents during the winter, but nest solely in the high Arctic Tundra.  They are scarce inland during migration except around the Great Lakes.  They are named after their habit of turning over stones, shells, and pieces of wood with their beaks as they search for food, with several birds sometimes cooperating to overturn heavier items.  The photo on the right depicts three Ruddy Turnstones (three birds toward the back with the strong face pattern).

Habitat: Breeds on the high Arctic Tundra.  In migration and in winter, mostly found along rocky shorelines or beaches covered with seaweed and debris. 

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects during the summer breeding season, as well as berries, seeds, and moss.  During migration and in winter, will also feed on crustaceans, mollusks, small fish, marine worms, bird eggs, and carrion.

Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Sharp low rattling.  Click here to hear the Ruddy Turnstone song. 

Migration: Summers throughout the high Arctic. Winters along all U.S. coastlines, as well as the coastlines of every continent except Antarctica.

Similar Species: Black Turnstone (not found in South Dakota).

Conservation Status: Generally common and widespread.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Ruddy Turnstone

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Ruddy Turnstone"

3) -- Ruddy Turnstone

Photo Information: May 18th, 2007 - Lake Thompson, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Ruddy Turnstone photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Ruddy Turnstone - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant throughout the state.  More common in the northeast, and less common in western South Dakota.