RUDDY TURNSTONES ON THE BEACH IN ABACO
Ruddy Turnstones Arenaria interpres are well-known shore birds around the world. They used to be classified as plovers, but are now counted with sanderling. Fortunately they are distinctive enough not to be confusable with the many other species of shore bird with which they mix.
Their foraging methods are classified into 6 broad categories, though I imagine that if peckish, they may opt for all of these in the one feeding session.
- Routing — rootling through piles of seaweed by flicking, ‘bulldozing’, and pecking it to expose small crustaceans or gastropod molluscs hidden underneath.
- Turning stones — living up to its name name, flicking stones with its bill to uncover hidden snaily and shrimpy creatures.
- Digging — using small flicks of the bill to make holes in sand or mud and then gobbling up the prey revealed.
- Probing — inserting the bill right into the ground to get at concealed gastropods.
- Hammering — cracking open shells using the bill as a hammer, then winkling out the occupant.
- Surface pecking — short, shallow pecks to get at prey just below the surface of the sand.
Between them, these turnstones seem to be using methods 1, 3, 4 and 6
This female bird has clearly dug down in the sand to the length of its bill
This male is digging deep…
When they are not actively feeding, turnstones enjoy group preening sessions
They are also very good at just standing around having a companionable chat…
…or a post-prandial snooze…
…or just enjoying the scenery in groups…
…or simply having a peaceful paddleAll photos by RH on the Delphi Club beach (where I’ve never seen one actually turn a stone)