Turnstone, a stout, short-necked shore bird. There are only two species—the ruddy turnstone and the black turnstone. They are named for their habit of flipping over pebbles and shells in search of food. They eat mostly small marine animals.
The ruddy turnstone has a rust-colored back and wings. The chest and head are white with irregular black V-shaped markings. The ruddy turnstone is about nine inches (23 cm) long and has reddish-orange legs and feet. It breeds on islands and coasts in the Arctic and winters south to Hawaii. The female builds a nest on the ground and lays four grayish-green eggs.
The black turnstone is very similar to the ruddy turnstone in appearance and habits but has a black head, breast, and back. It breeds on the coast of Alaska and winters south to northwestern Mexico.
Turnstones belong to the sandpiper family, Scolopacidae. The ruddy turnstone is Arenaria interpres; the black turnstone, A. melanocephala.