Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-18

Common name:

Ruddy Turnstone

Scientific name: Arenaria interpres
Date: May 7, 2006
Time: 3:00 pm
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: North of mile marker 6, Antelope Island Causeway
County: Davis
Latilong: Border of 2 and 5
Elevation: 4200 ft
Distance to bird: 300-400 yds
Optical equipment: 85 mm spotting scope; 20-60x eyepiece
Weather: Thin haze; sunny and dry
Light Conditions: Bright with heat waves
Description:        Size of bird: About two-thirds as big as Black-bellied Plovers present in both height and body size
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Shorebird--like a horizontal football flatter on top and more thinly pointed at the tail end
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Rust, black and white
(Description:)            Bill Type: Obscured by distance/heat waves
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Only strongest field marks visible at distance. Profile of bird flatter-backed and proportionally longer with more drawn-out pointed tail/folded wingtips than chunky Black-bellied Plovers
present. White crown visible as bird tipped head down to pick up objects on mud flats. Bright rufous back. Thick black "oxen" collar curved down below neck deeply into breast. Pure white underparts from where rounded black collar ended to tip of tail.

Field marks not seen: fine black bill, fine streaking of crown, face pattern, black lower scapulars, red-orange legs. Distance/ heat waves conspired to restrict views of finer detail; pickleweed in front of bird restricted view of legs.

When turnstone flushed with plovers, appeared all white underneath except around head and neck. Only black and white could be seen in flight.
Song or call & method of delivery: Not heard
Behavior: Foraging method similar to that of plovers. Bird walked or ran a step or two and stretch down to pick up an object, then moved a few steps in another direction.
Habitat: Mud flats of Great Salt Lake
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Only three shorebirds have rufous backs, review species and:

Dunlin: Lacks the fat black neck collar and shows a black belly as opposed to pure white underparts to tail. About half the size of a BB Plover; review bird was larger than half.

Curlew Sandpiper: Is not only rufous above, but is rufous below as well. Review bird was white below and showed a thick black collar. Curlew Sandpiper would likely stand taller next to plovers than did turnstone because sandpiper has longer legs.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen bright breeding Ruddy Turnstones on rocky lava coastlines in Hawaii and a breeding turnstone at AIC in Sep 05
References consulted: Sibley and Paulson's Shorebirds of North America
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Kristin M. Purdy
Observer's address: 1961 Arapaho Circle, Ogden, UT 84403
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: May 7, 2006
Additional material:  
Additional comments: