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Bird of the Week: Ruddy Turnstone


While visiting the shorelines of our parks this time of year keep your eyes on the lookout for a brightly colored migratory visitor. Playfully called the calico cat of birds, the Ruddy Turnstone is the most colorful shorebird you’ll spot in Michigan. Fall plumage is duller than their spring plumage, but they are still quite easy to spot with their stocky shape. Bright orange legs and amazing black and white pattern on their head and chest make for a colorful surprise on the often-gray shores. If you do get the chance to spot them it is delightful to observe the charming way they use their upturned bills to flip rubble on the shore in search of insects and small crustaceans. Interestingly, these birds don’t migrate all together, but instead in different migratory stages. The first birds are the mates that did not successfully breed, next females, then males. Oddly, the last to migrate are the juvenile that make their first migration without parent supervision! Wintering along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and breeding along the Artic Ocean, migration through Michigan starts the second week of July and goes well into October. They are sometimes spotted at inland lakes and wetlands, but they are more commonly found along the Great Lakes. Be sure to look for this unique bird if you are visiting Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie Metropark. If you are interested in finding out more about migration, Oakwoods Nature Center is hosting Birds on the Move on September 3rd from 8 am – 10 am. Happy Birding!

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