Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpres (Linnaeus)
Status Common transient, rare in winter. It is an uncommon spring migrant generally seen during May (earliest 28 April, latest 2 June). Birds in early April on Cape Sable during 1978 had probably overwintered locally. A few late-June birds during three years may have been non-breeders. It generally appears around mid-July (average 16 July, earliest 1 July) in migration and remains common through September. It can still be found locally in November and has occurred on a dozen Christmas Bird Counts around the province. Individuals and small groups have successfully wintered several times at Louisbourg and have been seen on Sable Island and Cape Sable during January or February.
Description Length: 20-25 cm. All plumages: Legs short, giving the bird a squat appearance. Adults in summer: A sturdy orange-legged shorebird with striking contrasting colour pattern; upperparts variegated with black, bright rufous and white; tail with broad black band, white at base and tipped with white; throat and belly white. Adults in winter: Dark grayish brown above, with white eyebrow, throat and underparts; lower breast black with a faint gray patch on each side.
Range Breeds throughout the Arctic. In North America, most winter from the southern United States south to Brazil and Chile.
Remarks Turnstones are found feeding along bleak coastlines among kelp-covered rocks, or on sand beaches. On occasion they will resort to inland pastures and mown hayfields. On 12 September 1921, a bird was collected from a flock of 20 or more that was circling a pasture at Chebogue, Yarmouth County; the flock finally alighted and appeared to be feeding. It is not unusual to see small numbers, mixed with much larger numbers of Black-bellied Plover, on the meadowlands at Grand Pre, Kings County, after the hay has been cut.
It is unusual to see large concentrations of turnstones. When the adult is seen in flight with a flock of the smaller sandpipers, as so often happens, its sharply contrasting plumage makes it stand out.
The name "turnstone" refers to the bird's habit of turning over small stones and other objects in search of food along the shore. Their custom of feeding among the kelp at low or half tide has caused them to be known by some shore folk as "seaweed birds."
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