Warblers aren’t the only migrants showing up here these days. Shorebirds like these Ruddy Turnstones are also moving through in great numbers.
Like many shorebirds, Ruddy Turnstones breed in the high Arctic – and they travel a long way to get there: in addition to wintering on both North American coasts, these birds spend the off season in such far-flung locales as South America, western Europe, southeast Asia, and Australia! They forage along rocky coasts, using their slightly upturned bills to flip over rocks, shells, and other beach debris to find insects and crustaceans. This behavior is what gives these handsome birds their name. Walking on slippery rocks can be a risky proposition, though, so these birds have some special adaptations. They’re equipped with slightly spiny feet that feature short, sharply curved toes to help them hold on, and their short legs lend them a low center of gravity, which keeps them stable.
Fun fact: Though there are nearly 350 shorebird species worldwide, there are only two turnstones – Ruddy and Black – and both breed exclusively in North America.
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