Sep 03 2012
When ruddy turnstones arrive on the U.S. coast in August, they’re still decked out in their calico colors: black, white and rusty red.
Though all of them are born in the Arctic, ruddy turnstones spend only three months up there. The adults arrive on the breeding grounds in late May or early June and lay eggs by mid-June. The eggs hatch by mid July. The young fledge by early August. As soon as the young are independent their mothers, then their fathers, leave for the south. By mid-August most of the adults have left. The young follow soon.
This schedule means that the first ruddy turnstones we see in August are probably adult females. I saw some early turnstones, probably female, at Cape Cod on August 2nd. Chuck Tague saw his first in Florida around August 22.
Perhaps they’re in a hurry to go south. I haven’t seen any on the coast of Maine this week.
(photo by Steve Gosser)