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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Turnstone

Arenaria interpres

  • Name also: Ruddy Turnstone
  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized, stocky short-legged wader. Plumage of birds in flight very striking. Broad white stripes visible on dark wings, back also has extensive white markings, tail black and white. Beak short and wedge-shaped.
  • Size: Length 21–24 cm, wingspan 43–49 cm, weight 90–130 g.
  • Nest: In a shallow depression, usually well hidden among rocks and vegetation, sometimes beneath a juniper bush. Lined with grass stalks, lichen and pine and spruce needles.
  • Breeding: 4 eggs laid in May, incubated by both parents for 22–23 days. Fledglings leave nest soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food. They learn to fly within 19–26 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds on rocky shores and islands along Finland’s coasts. Finnish breeding population estimated at 2,000–2,500 pairs.
  • Migration: Nocturnal. Leaves Finland July–August, returning in May. Winters in West Africa.
  • Diet: Invertebrates, occasionally birds’ eggs. Often forages for food by turning stones over, as indicated by its name.
  • Calls: A squeaking “tee-kweetee-kweetee-kweetee-tee-tee”.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected. Globally Least concern.

Turnstones are stocky, short-legged waders with shortish, sturdy beaks and very striking plumage. Their heads, necks and chests are white with prominent black markings. Their backs are rusty brown and black, and their bellies are white. In flight their white wing bars, white patches on their backs and their black and white tails add further to this striking appearance. Males are generally more colourful than females. Juveniles have a similar dark and white appearance in flight, but they lack the rusty brown colouring of adults, and their heads, chests and backs are a fairly uniform dark greyish brown.

Turnstones’ legs are reddish orange (mature birds) or brownish yellow (juveniles). Their beaks are black (adults) or dark with an orange base (juveniles). Their irises are brown.

Other species from the same family

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