Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-

Common name:

Ruddy Turnstone

Scientific name: Arenaria interpres
Date: Sep 12, 2005
Time: 11:30
Length of time observed: 1 1/2 hours
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: North side of 'No Swimming' bridge at Antelope Island Causeway, approx mile 4.8
County: Davis
Latilong: Right on the border of 2 and 5?
Elevation: 4200 ft
Distance to bird: 150-200 yards
Optical equipment: Zeiss 85 mm Diascope, 20 x 60 eyepiece
Weather: Clear, recent rain, temps in the low 60s
Light Conditions: Bright, full sun
Description:        Size of bird: Mid-sized between a Semi-palmated Plover and a Killdeer
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Like a Killdeer with short legs
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Rust, black, white
(Description:)            Bill Type: Fine, sharply pointed, relatively short for a shorebird
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:

Bill: Short for a non-plover shorebird; narrow, fine tip, black.
Length was about ¾ long as front-to-back length of the side of the head.

Head: Small relative to the body.

Crown: Low and sloping. Basically pale; finely streaked with dusky gray or black with some faint warm tones—possibly brown, mixed in. Color extended back across the crown to back of head. Small black dot sometimes appeared at the back of the head just under the crown.

Face: Black line began at base of upper mandible extending straight back through eye, then turning down at a 90 degree angle at the eye and merging with wide black band that encircled upper breast. Eye seemed to be positioned entirely within the black color. White patch on face aft of bill; thin black strap extended from base of bill backward and down and merged with black band that encircled breast.

Neck: Black collar extended up from the breast band around side of neck and wasn’t complete at the back of the neck. White collar below incomplete band; both sides of white collar ended within the broad black upper breast band on the upper sides of the breast and appeared as white
spots right in front of the shoulders.

Back: Primarily black in two wide streaks with an indistinct lighter streak between the fields of black on upper back.

Wings: Appeared as three parallel horizontal stripes of rust (near the black back streak), black (coverts), and rust again (more coverts). Feathers of all three stripes were somewhat edged or mottled with white/black. Length of wingtips matched length of tail.

Did not see uppertail coverts or notice color of tail.


Chin and throat: a white circle surrounded by black breastband that extended up the sides of the neck.

Upper breast: A wide black band shaped like two fat scallops or the rounded bottoms of a ‘W’.

Breast, belly, undertail: Bright white and unmarked.

Legs/feet: Short, Bright tomato-orange.

In flight: Bird appeared only black-and-white in my limited flight views; flight views all with unaided eye.  (see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Bird foraged most of the time and used several foraging methods. Walked serenely, leaning down to pick up single items; ran like a plover and leaned over and peck-peck-pecked like a Sanderling; flipped leaves and mud up into the air deftly and quickly, and bulldozed rocks a couple inches and seemed to quickly look where the rock had rested. Foraged very close to resting Ring-billed Gulls, at times a Black-bellied Plover, and several Snowy Plovers. Once the bird flushed with the Black-bellied Plover and once it flushed with the three Snowy Plovers.
Habitat: Muddy/rocky shoreline of Great Salt Lake and edge of channel.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
No other small shorebird has bright orange/red legs. No other shorebird has distinctive white/black face pattern and rust/black back and wings pattern.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen breeding-plumaged male Ruddy Turnstones foraging on coastal lava flows in Hawaii.
References consulted: Paulson's Shorebirds of North America, The Photographic Guide; Sibley
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Kristin M. Purdy
Observer's address: 1961 Arapaho Circle
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Paul Higgins (photos), Deedee O'Brien, Steve Carr
Date prepared: Sep 12, 2005
Additional material: photos
Additional comments: