Ruddy Turnstone – Ornithology


That is the time of the yr when shorebirds begin making their manner from their breeding grounds within the tundra to extra southern climes. It’s an arduous journey to say the least. So right now’s weblog is about certainly one of these birds, the very engaging Ruddy Turnstone.

“Ruddy” refers back to the reddish shade on the again of the fowl and “turnstone” to its behavior of rolling rocks over to search out meals.

The Ruddy Turnstone is a stocky medium-sized shorebird with brief orange-red legs and a barely upturned invoice. The throat and higher breast are distinctively marked with black or brown with a white stomach beneath. The upperparts are reddish-brown (ruddy) when breeding. A particular black and white sample reveals in flight. Ruddy Turnstones are one of many shorebirds that breed the farthest north within the arctic tundra throughout the highest of the world from Canada to Siberia, Greenland, and Scandinavia. When winter arrives they’re discovered in additional southern areas from the northern U.S right down to the tip of South America in addition to coastlines nearly worldwide. Throughout migration, they might journey as much as 6500 miles a method, generally 600 miles in sooner or later, averaging 25 to 50 miles per hour within the air. One study tracked four birds traveling 4500 miles continuous from Australia to Taiwan over a interval of six days. Ruddy Turnstones are well-adapted to foraging alongside shorelines, utilizing their stout invoice to flip over rocks, seaweed, and particles to uncover bugs, crustaceans, mollusks, and different small invertebrates beneath. Early within the breeding season the birds could depend on carrion, fish, and plant materials till insect abundance will increase. They sometimes eat the egg contents of different nesting birds, together with shorebirds, gulls, and terns by poking a gap within the egg. On their wintering grounds they might eat barnacles, shrimp and crabs, periwinkles, and clams in addition to marine worms.

Ruddy Turnstone in winter plumage

In the course of the breeding season, Ruddy Turnstones kind monogamous relationships (have just one mate) and develop into very territorial and aggressive. They nest on the bottom on the sting of tundra vegetation, establishing a easy nest by scraping a small melancholy within the floor. The calcium content material of the eggs could exceed that of the feminine that laid the eggs, so she could feed on the enamel of lifeless lemmings for calcium. The feminine lays a clutch of normally 4 eggs and each mother and father take turns incubating them. The eggs are laid with the pointed finish inward in order that the eggs don’t roll round or out of the straightforward nest and since they match collectively properly, make it simpler for the mother and father to incubate them effectively. The younger hatch synchronously, inside a day of one another, making it simpler for each mother and father to look after and feed the newly hatched younger.

On their wintering grounds, Ruddy Turnstones could kind flocks of tens of hundreds of birds, typically with different species of shorebirds. These foraging flocks end result as a steadiness between safety in opposition to predators due to larger vigilance (extra birds to identify intruder) and elevated competitors for meals with different birds. The specter of predation is important as a result of shorebirds feed within the open on seashores and rocky shores. Some predators are gulls, ravens, skuas, Peregrine Falcons, foxes, Merlins, and owls. On their nesting grounds throughout breeding season, predation on Ruddy Turnstones is highest when the lemming inhabitants is low. Predators want lemmings and solely change to consuming small birds when lemmings are much less out there.

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