Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What I learned about Ruddy Turnstone from eBird

Ruddy TurnstoneRuddy Turnstone, Seaside, Oregon, 6 August 2011 by Greg Gillson.


I don't get to see Ruddy Turnstones very often, especially adults in breeding plumage, like this bird.

They breed on rocky coasts and tundra in the Arctic. In the Pacific Northwest, spring migration is primarily mid-April to mid-May. Adults heading south arrive in mid-July, juveniles arrive in mid-August. By October most birds have departed, though there are always a few that winter, especially on the southern Oregon coast.

Unlike many shorebirds, turnstones in the Pacific Northwest are restricted to the outer coast--they are very rare on inland pond edges.

Thus, I was quite surprised to see the range map in the new Stokes guide. It showed regular migration through the Mississippi Flyway. No other field guide shows that.

So I thought I'd check it out in eBird.

Below is the winter range of Ruddy Turnstone in North America, showing the coastal preference of this species (click on the map for a larger view):

Next is the spring migration during May. Note the birds in the Mississippi Flyway and Midwest:

The exact breeding range is a bit hard to determine from eBird. That is because many birds are still migrating north in early June, and many adults are already heading south in July. Mapping for eBird currently is by month, not week.

The main southward migration is shown below (August-October). Notice again that there is a good migration through the Mississippi Flyway, but also widely in the Northeast and generally everywhere east of the Great Plains:

So, then, the migration range in North America is mostly coastal and the Mississippi Flyway. I learned something I didn't know before! How about you?

Interestingly, this individual bird hung around for several days at the "Cove" in Seaside, Oregon, where others also found and photographed it.

Mike Patterson's photo of this same individual on August 8.

Jen's photo of this same individual on August 8.