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An Imperial Beach Hidden Gem and Bird of the Week, Bryan Brillhart Photography present the “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the Ruddy Turnston

Apr 04, 2018 10:00PM ● By Paul Spear

An Imperial Beach Hidden Gem and Bird of the Week, Bryan Brillhart Photography present the “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the Ruddy Turnstone

 “Dig Imperial Beach” Bird of the Week, the “Ruddy Turnstone ”

This Week’s “Bird of the Week” is the Ruddy Turnstone  (Arenaria interpres), a chunky, short-legged common and widespread sandpiper, wearing a bright harlequin pattern in summer, and a dark brown pattern in winter. The Ruddy Turnstone nests on the high arctic tundra of North America and Eurasia, and winters along the coastlines of six continents. In migration it 

 is seen mainly along the coast, although numbers may stop over at favored points inland, especially along the Great Lakes. Its winter habitat is on beaches, mudflats, jetties, and rocky shores, and in summer on tundra. Habit is mostly coastal during migration, and in winter, they favor rocky shorelines, rock jetties, or beaches covered with seaweed or debris. They may also feed on mudflats or on plowed fields near the coast. Ruddy Turnstones  are best known for the habit of inserting their bills under stones, and shells, etc., and flipping them over to find food underneath. They often probe under seaweed or debris, and can be a nuisance in tern colonies at times, including on wintering grounds on Pacific islands, where they may puncture and eat the contents of many eggs.

Their diet is variable, including insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. In breeding season, they 

 eat mostly insects, spiders, seeds, berries, and moss. At other seasons they eat crustaceans (including barnacles, crabs, amphipods), mollusks, worms, sea urchins, and small fish. They will also eat carrion and food scraps thrown out in garbage dumps. Sometimes they eat the eggs of other birds.

During courtship, the male pursues the female in the air and on the ground. Males 

 After mating 4, sometimes 2-3, olive-green to olive-buff, blotched with dark brown eggs are laid. Incubation is by both sexes, but the female does more for the 22-24 days gestation period. Downy young leave the nest shortly after hatching. Both parents care for young at  may approach females in a hunched posture, raising and lowering their tails. Nesting sites are usually on ground, either in the open or concealed among rocks or under plants. Nests are built by the females, and are a shallow depression with a slight lining of leaves.

 first, but the male takes a greater role, and the female usually departs before the young are old enough to fly. The male leads young to food at first, but young soon feed themselves. Chicks age at first flight is in 19-21 days, and they are usually independent thereafter.


Bryan Brillhart

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Paul Spear, Publisher, and Editor of Dig Imperial Beach 



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