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Birdata is your gateway to BirdLife Australia data including the Atlas of Australian Birds and Nest record scheme. You can use Birdata to draw bird distribution maps and generate bird lists for any part of the country. You can also join in the Atlas and submit survey information to this important environmental database.


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Welcome to Birdata 31 May 2016

Ruddy Turnstone: Leaving no stone unturned

J.N. Davies

When in Australia, Ruddy Turnstones are usually associated with coastal habitats (there are few stretches of our extensive coastline that they seem not to inhabit). With their fluoro-orange legs waggling back and forth, Turnstones scurry along the beach like clockwork toys, using their bills to turn over small stones, shells and other bits and pieces as they go, uncovering the tiny invertebrate prey hidden underneath. It is through this characteristic foraging method that the species gets its name.

Like many of the migratory shorebirds that occur along the coasts of Australia, Ruddy Turnstones breed in Siberia: each year they migrate from there to their non-breeding grounds in Australia and New Zealand (and back again) via the East Asian Flyway, flying on a broad front. (Other populations of Ruddy Turnstones breed in Alaska and migrate across the Pacific Ocean, but these birds do not reach Australia, and their main wintering areas are islands in the Pacific.) After arriving in northern Australia, in order to reach the exposed shores of the Southern Ocean, rather than travelling around the coastline, many Turnstones instead take a short-cut across the vast, harsh, inhospitable deserts of the interior.

The accompanying map shows that, in addition to numerous records of Ruddy Turnstones along the coast, there are also a number of records from much further inland, such as along the course of the Murray River.

If you want to discover more information about this species or any other birds that occur in Australia, just take a little time to explore the Birdata website, or visit the BirdLife Australia website at . You never know what you might find.

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