Stocky, Mmedium sized migratory shore bird 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.
The distinctive marking and dark and white pattern in flight make the Ruddy Turnstone unmistakeable, along with their habitat of turning over stones.
One of the world’s most northerly breeding shorebird. Journeys from the very edge of the Arctic across the Pacific to Australia from August to April. Will allow you to see them close-up as they work along pebbly beaches or fossick through piles of seaweed, leaving no stone unturned. They nest on small rocky islands and shores mostly in the far northern hemisphere
Call ID: rattling ‘kitititit’ and ringing ‘kee-oo’
What to Observe
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
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.
Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?"
When To Look
Migration to Australia usually occurs from August to April.
Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout all year!
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.
Note:ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout beyond these regions too!
Ruddy Turnstone compiled distribution map - BirdLife International
- Pizzey, G, Knight, F 2007, The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney, Australia, Harper Collins Publishers, p 184
- Birdlife Australia
- Barter, M.A. (2002). Shorebirds of the Yellow Sea: Importance, Threats and Conservation Status. Wetlands International Global Series No. 8, International Wader Studies 12. Canberra, ACT: Wetlands International.
- Barter, M.A. (2005c). Yellow Sea-driven priorities for Australian shorebird researchers. In: Straw, P., ed. Status and Conservation of Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Proceedings of the Australasian Shorebirds Conference 13-15 December 2003, Canberra, Australia. Sydney, NSW: Wetlands International Global Series 18, International Wader Studies 17.
- Ge, Z.-M., T-H. Wang, X. Zhou, K.-Y. Wang & W.-Y. Shi (2007). Changes in the spatial distribution of migratory shorebirds along the Shanghai shoreline, China, between 1984 and 2004. Emu. 107:19-27.
- Round, P.D. (2006). Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand. Stilt. 50:96-102.
- Experts consulted: ClimateWatch Science Advisory Panel
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.
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.
- Ruddy Turnstones 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.