Notice for readers: On March 31, Neotropical Birds will be integrated into the new Birds of the World, a powerful research database offering species accounts for every species on earth. Learn more at While Birds of the World is a subscription service, we remain committed to offering this content to Neotropical Birds contributors and to those unable to pay for it through our scholarship program. Stay tuned.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

The Ruddy Turnstone is among one of the most widespread species in the world, it can be found on the coasts and shorelines nearly anywhere on earth, even isolated islands in the middle of the Pacific! However, it breeds in the northernmost extremes of the Arctic and its breeding has been little studied due to its extreme high latitude nesting range. During the non-breeding period the Ruddy Turnstone will forage in rocky beaches, mudflats, sand beach, and the edge of mangroves. The two species of turnstones have a short and versatile bill, and the Ruddy Turnstone is particularly versatile in its foraging. The classic method of foraging, which gives them their name, is to place the bill under a small stone and then flip the stone over to reveal food beneath where the stone had been. Ruddy Turnsones will also eat carrion, garbage and in some places in the Caribbean become tame and forage for table scraps at outdoor hotel restaurants and café’s. As improbable as it may seem, a Ruddy Turnstone can share a table with a Bananaquit on the island of Tobago! In the breeding season the Ruddy Turnstone is a gorgeous species, clad in rusty, black and white with a complicated face pattern and complex black and white pattern on the wings and tail. The face patterns are distinctive enough that researchers in the breeding season can use face patterns to recognize individual birds!

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute—we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more

© Michael Andersen

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: