Ruddy turnstone in breeding plumage. Photo by Bill Thompson, III

Ruddy Turnstone

From April through September, the ruddy turnstone has a zebra-striped face and breast and rusty (or ruddy) wings. The rest of the year, the bird wears a much-faded version of this plumage. Its short legs remain orange year-round.

Listen For

A ternlike klew! alarm call, plus an unmusical chatter, kkkkkkkrrrkkkkkrr.


Even in its dull winter plumage, the ruddy turnstone retains some of the pattern on its head and breast.

Find It

Sandy or rocky beaches, breakwaters, and jetties are the preferred habitat of the ruddy turnstone. Most commonly found along coasts in migration and winter, rarer inland.


The turnstone is named for the way it finds food, using its bill to turn over stones. Its Latin name translates to “sandy place interpreter” for its habit of calling out to warn other birds of danger.

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