Turnstone

Turnstone

Scientific name: Arenaria interpres

Did you know: The Turnstone, a bird known for its remarkable ability to flip over rocks as big as its body, is also called the ‘ruddy turnstone’ in North America.

What Do Turnstones Look Like? (how to identify them)

Turnstones are petite birds, smaller than Redshanks, with a distinctive appearance. 

Their upperparts display a mottled mix of brown, chestnut, and black, while their underparts are primarily white. These birds are also noted for their unique head pattern, which varies between brown and white or black and white. Adding to their distinct look are their bright orange legs.

Differences Between Male And Female Turnstones

Males and females are similar in appearance, but there are subtle differences. The female is generally duller with a browner head and more streaks, especially noticeable during the breeding season.

What Do Turnstones Eat?

Turnstones have a varied diet including insects, crustaceans, and molluscs. Known for their foraging technique, they often flip over stones on beaches to find food. Interestingly, their diet can be quite eclectic, sometimes including unusual items like bird eggs, chips, and even carrion.

Where Do Turnstones Live? (inc. migration info)

Turnstones are commonly found along the UK coastlines. They are migratory birds, with populations arriving from northern Europe, Canada, and Greenland at different times of the year. Their preferred habitats include marine and intertidal zones, as well as wetlands. 

In the UK, they are often seen during winter.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Turnstones)

Turnstones have a distinctive, rattling call and a chattering alarm call. These calls are most commonly heard during their breeding season and are part of their unique vocal identity.

Fun Turnstone Facts (kid friendly)

  • Turnstones can lift rocks as heavy as their own body!
  • They have a lifespan of around 9 years.
  • Turnstones are part of the sandpiper family.
  • They have a wingspan of 50-57cm, making them skilled flyers.
  • In flight, Turnstones show unique white patches on their backs and wings.
  • Despite being migratory, they can be seen in the UK throughout the year.
  • They are known for eating a wide variety of foods, even human leftovers.
  • Turnstones have orange legs that become brighter during the breeding season.
  • Their name comes from their habit of flipping over stones while searching for food.

Facts About The Turnstone

Diet: Insects, crustaceans and molluscs.
Bird Family: Sandpipers, snipes and phalaropes
Length: 21-24cm
Wingspan: 50-57cm
Weight: 85-150g
Scientific Name: Arenaria interpres

The Turnstone Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December