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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Ruddy Turnstone -- Arenaria interpres

RANGE: Breeds from northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic islands south to western Alaska, and Southampton, Coats, and Mansel Islands, probably also the northern portions of Mackenzie and Keewatin. Nonbreeding birds may be found through the winter range in summer. Winters along the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts from central California and New York south to South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits flat, lichen-covered, mossy, or gravelly tundra near the seacoast in a variety of boreal habitats. Often perches on boulders, stakes, pilings, piers, and boats during breeding season. In other seasons, frequents rocks, reefs, and mussel beds of the intertidal zone, sandy beaches, and solid mudflats.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dry, dwarf-shrub tundra near the coast.

NEST: Nests in a depression in tundra in exposed or sheltered sites such as beside a rock or clump of vegetation. Uses a wet area near the nest site for brood rearing.

FOOD: Forages among seaweeds, rocks and shells, and roots in wet sand. Eats mollusks, crustaceans, worms, flies and their larvae picked from the carcasses of seals and whales, eggs of gulls and terns, grasshoppers, soft parts of barnacles, sand fleas, and fiddler crabs.

REFERENCES: Bent 1929, Palmer 1967, Terres 1980, Wilds in Farrand 1983a.

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