Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ruddy Turnstone

The ruddy turnstone has an unusual name and is quite a distinctive bird. The name "ruddy," which means red or reddish, comes from its breeding plumage when its upper wings, tail and back feathers get reddish brown with black streaks. "Turnstone" comes from its behavior of flipping over objects, such as stones, in search of food hiding underneath. They have bright orange feet and legs which stand out next to their white underparts. Males have very distinctive black and white heads. Females, like the one below, have heads that are more dull, brown with streaks. They have black on the breast, but much more so on the male than the female. Their wing and back feathers have been described as a "harlequin-like"pattern of black, white and brown. The wedge-shaped bill is used for pecking, probing and hammering as it searches for food. They breed in the far north and winter along coastlines as far as southern South America. I saw this one along the coast of Cape Canaveral in Florida. 
Ruddy turnstone on the beach at Cape Canaveral.
Distinctive orange legs and black breast. 
Harlequin-like pattern on wings.
Judy notes that the pattern on the wing is similar to the pattern on a hawk wing mushroom, a type of mushroom we found in Colorado last summer. A picture of the hawk wing mushroom is below.
Hawk wing mushroom found near Mt. Yale outside Buena Vista, Colorado.

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