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Turnstone Bird

Identification of Turnstone Bird

Turnstone Bird 1 Length: 21-25cm Wingspan: 49-57cm Call: "chut-chut'ut'ut'ut"

Turnstone bird is a small, boldly patterned and dumpy shorebird, with a short neck, short orange legs and a short, strong bill. In breeding plumage, Turnstone Bird is very colourful, with chestnut-orange upperparts marked with a bold pattern of wide black straps along the scapulars, a black upper mantle and black wingtips. The head and underparts are white with a broad crescent of black on the breast that extends up on to the face and neck in a bridle, plus a black-streaked crown. In winter it loses the red of the upperparts, becoming dark grey-brown and lightly scalloped, but in flight it appears pied and very variegated, a pattern dominated by a bold white back patch. The breast patch becomes more diffuse and the head becomes dusky.

Habitat of Turnstone Bird

Turnstone Bird is a breeder of high latitudes, favouring islands and archipelagos, dry tundra, rocky and shingly areas around coasts and never more than a few kilometres from shore. Outside the breeding season it can roam widely, even as far as the tropics, and is commonly seen around British coasts, where it is strongly tied to rocky and seaweed-rich places. It can be found on breakwaters and harbour walls, and is well adapted to enduring the high winds, strong wave activity and spray that come with this choice of habitat. Occasionally migrants can be seen on inland water bodies. As its name suggests, it feeds by foraging and lifting small stones, seaweed and other littoral matter with its bill.

Song / call of Turnstone Bird

Turnstone Bird 2

Turnstone Bird is often heard calling, partly due to its confiding nature which allows the observer to hear calls at fairly close range. Turnstone bird has a limited repertoire, however, uttering hard 'stony' calls when disturbed along rocky shores. Typical calls are a short sharp "kheewl", a "chut-chut'ut'ut'ut" or a lower-pitched "chup'up'up'up". When its mood is elevated due to alarm or breeding fervour, it extends this call into a rolling chatter, "drrd'du'dr'r'r'r'r'r" or "chit-uk'chit-uk'i-peep-pi'pi'pi'pi'pi" and "weh-whidi'whidi'kikikikikikiki".