Ruddy Turnstone Corine Bliek/Flickr

Ruddy Turnstone

Did You Know?

  • Staging areas used during migration through eastern Asia are being lost and degraded by activities which are reclaiming the mudflats for development or developing them for aquaculture
  • They feed busily, by probing, pecking and poking into cracks. They turn over stones and seaweed to find insects, crustaceans, molluscs and spiders
  • They sometimes eat eggs and carrion (dead things), feeding by day and night
FactBox Image

Stocky, medium-sized migratory shorebird with a short black bill and short orange legs. Back, head and upper chest is marked with black-brown and pale areas (tortoise shell-like) with a white breast. The bill is wedge-shaped and slightly up-tilted. In flight, there is a distinctive black and white pattern.

Distinctive features

The distinctive marking and dark and white pattern in flight make the Ruddy Turnstone unmistakeable, along with their habitat of turning over stones.


22–24 cm long



A rattling ‘kitititit’ and ringing ‘kee-oo’


They work along pebbly beaches or fossick through piles of seaweed, leaving no stone unturned.


One of the world’s most northerly breeding shorebird it journeys from the very edge of the Arctic across the Pacific to Australia from August to April. They nest on small rocky islands and shores mostly in the far northern hemisphere.

Field Guide

Improve your identification skills. Download your Ruddy Turnstone field guide here!

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What to Observe

  • Presence

  • Calling

  • Feeding

Climate Adaptations

Critical habitat in the Arctic and Australia are key places where climate change is a major cause for concern. We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as climatic events alter preferred habitat, natural resources and migration routes.

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When and Where

When To Look

Migration to Australia usually occurs from August to April.

Where To Look

  • Around the coast of Australia's mainland and off-shore islands
  • Look in tidal reeds and pools, mudflats and pebbly, shelly and sandy shores
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

Similar Species

Similar to other Sandpipers including the Red Knot that is distinguished by the robin-red colour on its chest.

The Ruddy Turnstone’s characteristic behaviour of turning over stones while foraging can help distinguish species.