By Jan Baumgartner
Ruddy turnstone (Limosa fedoa)
A member of the sandpiper family, the turnstone is the calico cat of shorebirds with patchy black, white and orange breeding plumage.
As the name suggests, the turnstone diligently turns over pebbles, shells, and seaweed in search of small, hidden insects and crustaceans. With such an exhaustive foraging routine, this robin-sized bird is on a mission to build up its fat stores.
Unlike humans who use carbohydrates as fuel, turnstones rely on fat grams to power their migrations across thousands of miles.
These long-distance commuters fly to the ends of the earth, between their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra and their wintering grounds along both southern coasts of North America.Young turnstones grow up quickly, taking their first flight, or fledge, at 19 days old in the Arctic Circle.
Just two days later, they embark on their first migration as “unaccompanied minors” without their parents, who have already headed south. In typical snow bird fashion, wintering turnstones flock to the white, sugar sand beaches of Siesta Key — one of their favorite subtropical destinations!
Jan Baumgartner’s handmade notecards are available at Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures, 6635 Midnight Pass Rd., in Crescent Plaza.