Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed marine
Listed migratory - Bonn, CAMBA, JAMBA, ROKAMBA
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Background Paper to the Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2005c) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
 
Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Marine bioregional plan for the North-west Marine Region (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012y) [Admin Guideline].
 
Draft Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009aj) [Admin Guideline].
 
Draft background paper to EPBC Act policy statement 3.21 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009bc) [Admin Guideline].
 
Shorebirds - A Vulnerability Assessment for the Great Barrier Reef (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), 2011i) [Admin Guideline].
 
Seagrass - A Vulnerability Assessment for the Great Barrier Reef (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), 2011k) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - Listed Migratory Species - Approval of an International Agreement (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007h) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Shorebirds (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (QLD DERM), 2006) [Internet].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Rare (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): Rare species: June 2011 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Least Concern (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Vulnerable (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
Scientific name Arenaria interpres [872]
Family Scolopacidae:Charadriiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Linnaeus,1758)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Arenaria Interpres

Common name: Ruddy Turnstone

Other names: the Turnstone, Eastern Turnstone, Sea-Dotterel, Beachbird and Calico-bird (Higgins & Davies 1996).


The Ruddy Turnstone is polytypic, meaning more than one subspecies exists:

  • the nominate subspecies, interpres, is found in western Alaska, Ellesmere and the Axel Heiberg Islands in the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, and northern Eurasia
  • the subspecies, morinella, is found in arctic Canada (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Ruddy Turnstone is a medium sized member of the subfamily Arenariinae. It has a length between 22–24 cm, wingspan of 50–57 cm and a weight of approximately 115 g.

Compared to other waders it has a stocky, medium build with a short, slightly uplifted, wedge shaped bill. Its distinct features include a black or dark brown chest with pale patches and a striking, dark-white, flight pattern. The bird also has orange-red legs and a bustling gait. The Ruddy Turnstone's common name is derived from its habit of turning stones with its bill. The sexes are similar in appearance however some breeding pairs are sometimes separable and juveniles are separable from immatures.

Ruddy Turnstones exhibit marked seasonal variations. The males are brighter than females in breeding plumage, with non-breeding plumages being somewhat duller. Juveniles have distinctly duller plumages than breeding adults (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Ruddy Turnstone is widespread within Australia during its non-breeding period of the year (Bamford et al. 2008), including from Tasmania in the south to Darwin in the north and many coastal areas in between. It is found in most coastal regions, with occasional records of inland populations (Higgins & Davies 1996). It strongly prefers rocky shores or beaches where there are large deposits of rotting seaweed (C.D.T. Minton 2002, pers. comm.).

An estimated 35 000 Ruddy Turnstones occupy the Flyway. During the non-breeding season approximately 73% of the Flyway population occurs in Australia and New Zealand (Bamford et al. 2008).The Ruddy Turnstone occurs in many smaller populations. During the non-breeding season, 11 important sites have been identified in Australia, with a further four identified as important staging areas. A further seven are located in New Zealand and two smaller numbered populations are in Eastern China. Note that an important site is calculated using the 1% criterion (i.e. a site is considered important if it is occupied by more then 1% of the bird's total population). Important international sites in the Flyway include (Bamford et al. 2008):


Site Country Max Count Site Country Max Count
Pribilof Islands United States 10 000 Rangaunu Harbour New Zealand 372
Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve China 1994 Kasai Kaihinkouen Japan 305
Farewell Spit New Zealand 1792 Futtsu Japan 300
Namyang Bay South Korea 1533 Morigasakinohana Japan 249
Parengarenga Harbour New Zealand 1500 Yatsu Higata Japan 243
Daursky Nature Reserve Russia 1200 Shio-kawa Higata Japan 239
Invercargill New Zealand 1150 Narashino-akanehama Japan 186
Yancheng National Nature Reserve China 919 Yong Jong Island South Korea 180
Manukau Harbour New Zealand 803 Ikawazu Japan 178
Kamisu-Chou Takahama Japan 761 Onaga Higata Japan 171
Kaipara Harbour New Zealand 618 Toukyou-kou, Yatyouen Shuuhen Japan 159
Notsuke-zaki, Odaitou Japan 598 Matsugishi-higata Japan 156
Schastiya Bay Russia 573 Makuharinohama Japan 150
Banyuasin Delta Indonesia 560 Skobeleva Bay Russia 145
Sanbanze, Tokyo Bay Japan 553 Miyagawakakou, Sotoshirotagawaka-kou Japan 144
Inba-numa Japan 542 Omaezaki-kaigan Japan 134
Fuuren-ko (Onnetou ohashi) Japan 505 Shiraho, Miyara-wan Japan 133
Han-Pao China 500 Awase Higata Japan 130
Sanmen Wan China 500 Tyuuou-bouhatei Uchi-Sotogawa Umetatechi Japan 121
Yodaura Suiden Japan 467 Hoa Trinh Vietnam 103
Dongjin Estuary South Korea 450 Nakatsu Kaigan Japan 101
Naruto-machi Suiden New Zealand 437 Lososei Bay Russia 100
Motueka Estuary New Zealand 434 Arao Kaigan Japan 100
Banzu Japan 430 Shigenobu-gawa Kakou Japan 98
Tauranga Harbour New Zealand 402 Kiritappu Shitsugen Japan 93
Mankyung Estuary South Korea 400 Yonaha-wan Japan 93



Non-breeding distribution
The Ruddy Turnstone's non-breeding distribution is almost cosmopolitan. It is common throughout Australasia and widespread within Australia. It is found in most coastal regions, with occasional records of inland populations (Higgins & Davies 1996). It is also known to occur in the British Isles, as well as on the coasts of the North Sea and the English Channel. Surveys indicate populations on the Iberian Peninsula, around the Mediterranean Sea, along the coast of Africa (and occasionally inland), in Madagascar, along most Asian coasts, the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf, and the Indian subcontinent. It is widespread, though in small numbers, throughout Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indochina, south-east China and Taiwan. The Ruddy Turnstone also lives throughout Indonesia, the coasts of North and South America and Pacific islands from Hawaii and Micronesia. It is also known to travel south to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

Breeding distribution
The Ruddy Turnstone breeds on the coasts of Europe, Asia and North America, generally north of 60° latitude. Common breeding coasts include Norway, Denmark, the Baltic coasts of Sweden, Finland, Spitsbergen and Estonia. From the Norwegian border the Ruddy Turnstone breeds from the east to south-west along the Kanin Peninsula. This location includes the coasts of the White Sea, Ostrov Kolguyev; and south Novaya Zemlya. From Ostrov Vaygach and the Yugorskiy Peninsula the breeding grounds continue east along the north coast to the east Chukotski Peninsula. The breeding grounds in west and north Alaska span from St. Lawrence Island, the delta of Yukon River, then east through the Canadian Arctic islands. The Canadian arctic islands include Banks Island, Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island and Southampton Island. The Ruddy Turnstone is known to breed on islands of north Hudson Bay. On the mainland it probably breeds in Mackenzie and Keewatin. It is known to breed in east Greenland and Iceland (Higgins and Davies 1996).


Using data from Bamford and colleagues (2008), an estimated 3.58%–5.38% of the global population live in Australia and New Zealand. Australia's population (Arenaria intepres) is distinct from the subspecies that populates north-east Alaska, the High Arctic and Canada (Arenaria interpres morinella).

Population in Australia
The Australian population is estimated at 14 000 (Watkins 1993), however, 35 000 birds use the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (the Flyway) annually. The number of Ruddy Turnstones in Victoria appears to be stable. The 2001 estimate is 647 birds, an increase on the previous estimate of 500 birds (Wilson 2001a). Australian sites of international importance and their maximum counts include (Bamford et al. 2008):

  • Eighty Mile Beach, Western Australia, 3480
  • Boullanger Bay/Robbins Passage, Tasmania, 2800
  • Ashmore Reef, Western Australia, 2230
  • Roebuck Bay, Western Australia, 2060
  • Barrow Island, Western Australia, 1733
  • King Island, Tasmania, 1252
  • Lacepede Islands, Western Australia, 1050
  • Rivoli Bay, South Australia, 616
  • Hunter Estuary, NSW, 520
  • Castlereagh Bay, Northern Territory, 456
  • Kangaroo Island, South Australia, 450
  • Port MacDonnell coast, South Australia, 443
  • Carpenter Rocks, Pelican Point, South Australia, 438
  • Ceduna Bays, South Australia, 385
  • Bynoe Harbour, Northern Territory, 350.

The species is also found in New Zealand and on Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Cocos-Keeling Island, Macquarie Island, Kermadec Island, Chatham Island, Antipodes Island, Auckland Island, Campbell Island, Prince Edward Island, Iles Crozet and Iles Kerguelen (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Important international sites in the Flyway include (Bamford et al. 2008):


Site Country Max Count Site Country Max Count
Pribilof Islands United States 10 000 Rangaunu Harbour New Zealand 372
Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve China 1994 Kasai Kaihinkouen Japan 305
Farewell Spit New Zealand 1792 Futtsu Japan 300
Namyang Bay South Korea 1533 Morigasakinohana Japan 249
Parengarenga Harbour New Zealand 1500 Yatsu Higata Japan 243
Daursky Nature Reserve Russia 1200 Shio-kawa Higata Japan 239
Invercargill New Zealand 1150 Narashino-akanehama Japan 186
Yancheng National Nature Reserve China 919 Yong Jong Island South Korea 180
Manukau Harbour New Zealand 803 Ikawazu Japan 178
Kamisu-Chou Takahama Japan 761 Onaga Higata Japan 171
Kaipara Harbour New Zealand 618 Toukyou-kou, Yatyouen Shuuhen Japan 159
Notsuke-zaki, Odaitou Japan 598 Matsugishi-higata Japan 156
Schastiya Bay Russia 573 Makuharinohama Japan 150
Banyuasin Delta Indonesia 560 Skobeleva Bay Russia 145
Sanbanze, Tokyo Bay Japan 553 Miyagawakakou, Sotoshirotagawaka-kou Japan 144
Inba-numa Japan 542 Omaezaki-kaigan Japan 134
Fuuren-ko (Onnetou ohashi) Japan 505 Shiraho, Miyara-wan Japan 133
Han-Pao China 500 Awase Higata Japan 130
Sanmen Wan China 500 Tyuuou-bouhatei Uchi-Sotogawa Umetatechi Japan 121
Yodaura Suiden Japan 467 Hoa Trinh Vietnam 103
Dongjin Estuary South Korea 450 Nakatsu Kaigan Japan 101
Naruto-machi Suiden New Zealand 437 Lososei Bay Russia 100
Motueka Estuary New Zealand 434 Arao Kaigan Japan 100
Banzu Japan 430 Shigenobu-gawa Kakou Japan 98
Tauranga Harbour New Zealand 402 Kiritappu Shitsugen Japan 93
Mankyung Estuary South Korea 400 Yonaha-wan Japan 93



The Ruddy Turnstone has been reasonably well surveyed. A recent review by Bamford and colleagues (2008) examines all shorebirds that utilize the Flyway. The review provides a summary of the population and migratory patterns of the Ruddy Turnstone. Notable contributions to the review include; Barter and Harris (2002), Lane (1987), Skewes (2003), Higgins and Davies (1996) and Watkins (1993).

The most recent estimate of the Ruddy Turnstones global population was between 475 000 and 713 000. The large variation in range is due to lack of count data in certain areas (Watkins 1993).

Internationally, six populations are described (Delaney 2002):

Population Breeding range Non-breeding range Population estimate
A. interpres, north-east Canada, Greenland (breeding) north-east Canada and Greenland Coastal western Europe, north-west Africa, west Africa 95 000
A. interpres, west Africa (non-breeding) Fennoscandia and north-west Russia Morocco to Gulf of Guinea, west Mediterranean 49 000–
107 000
A. interpres, south west Asia, east and south Africa (non-breeding) High Arctic west and central Siberia east Mediterranean, Red Sea, Persian and Arabian Gulfs, west Indian Ocean coasts and islands to South Africa 100 000
A. interpres, south Asia (non-breeding) High Arctic Siberia southern Asia 10 000–
100 000
A. interpres, Pacific and south-east Asia (non-breeding) High Arctic Siberia, Alaska Indochina, south China, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, west and south Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, California, Mexico 31 000–35 000
A. i. morinella north-east Alaska, High Arctic Canada California and south Carolina to south-central Chile, northern Argentina 180 000


According to the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2009), the Ruddy Turnstone has a decreasing population trend.

The Ramsar wetlands used by the Ruddy Turnstone include Eighty Mile Beach, Western Australia; Roebuck Bay, Western Australia; and the Ashmore Reef. Sites such as Robbins Passage, Tasmania are not Ramsar listed, however, World Wildlife Federation projects are in place to promote sustainable conservation in this region (WWF n.d). Over one-third of Kangaroo Island, South Australia, another important site for the Ruddy Turnstone, is designated a national park.

Typical habitat
In Australasia, the Ruddy Turnstone is mainly found on coastal regions with exposed rock coast lines or coral reefs. It also lives near platforms and shelves, often with shallow tidal pools and rocky, shingle or gravel beaches. It can, however, be found on sand, coral or shell beaches, shoals, cays and dry ridges of sand or coral. It has occasionally been sighted in estuaries, harbours, bays and coastal lagoons, among low saltmarsh or on exposed beds of seagrass, around sewage ponds and on mudflats. In north Australia it is known to occur in a wide variety of habitats, and may prefer wide mudflats. In southern Australia the Ruddy Turnstone prefers rockier coastlines and is less numerous on large embayments with extensive mudflats. On Flinders Island, Tasmania, it has been sighted around rocky reefs during spring and summer, and moves to bays and estuaries for autumn and winter. In south-west Australia, it may occur on pebble-strewn shores of saltlakes near the coast. On Rottnest Island, the Ruddy Turnstone prefers shores with scattered fragments of limestone. In New Zealand it has occasionally been recorded in paddocks or grassy areas. Surveys demonstrate that the Ruddy Turnstone can live away from coastal areas in habitats such river beds, and on inland lakes and adjacent farmland (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Habitat for feeding
The Ruddy Turnstone mainly forages between lower supralittoral and lower littoral zones of foreshores, from strand-line to wave-zone. They often forage among banks of stranded seaweed or other tide-wrack. They are also known to forage on exposed rocky platforms, coral reefs and mudflats (Higgins & Davies 1996). In the south-east Gulf of Carpentaria they feed only on mangrove mudflats, especially those near shingle beaches (Garnett 1989). Sometimes they feed around coastal lagoons and sewage treatment ponds, occasionally among low vegetation in saltmarsh, on exposed beds of seagrass, or among dunes on coral cays. The have sometimes been known to forage in grassy areas above the tideline, in short pasture, or in ploughed paddocks. On Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island they have been observed foraging on grassy commons and in floodwaters (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Habitat for roosting
The Ruddy Turnstone roosts on beaches, above the tideline, among rocks, shells, beachcast seaweed or other debris. They have also been observed roosting on rocky islets among grassy tussocks, and on mudflats and sandflats. They sometimes fly around, or land on, ships at sea (Higgins & Davies 1996). Surveys have reported them roosting on an inland claypan near Roebuck Bay, north-west Western Australia (Collins et al. 2001).

The Ruddy Turnstone does not breed in Australia. It is monogamous and solitary (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Micro-habitat needed for breeding
The Ruddy Turnstone's nest is placed in a small depression, in wet or dry hummocky sites, and is lined with plant material. It may be concealed in or under vegetation, or in a fully open site (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Breeding behaviours that may make the species vulnerable
The Ruddy Turnstone nests on the ground and is therefore vulnerable to predation (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Breeding season
The Ruddy Turnstone lays eggs from mid-May to early July. In Canada the Ruddy Turnstone lays its eggs mostly in mid-June (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Fecundity, lifespan, generation interval
The Ruddy Turnstone lays two to four eggs and incubates them for about 22–27 days. The chicks are cared for by both sexes for around 19–21 days. Between 26% and 88% of eggs hatch and 50–74% of chicks fledge. First-year mortality is between 42% and 55% and the adult annual mortality is 22–34%. The age of first breeding is thought to be two years: the oldest bird recorded was at least 19 years and 8 months (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Summary of food items or sources
The Ruddy Turnstone is carnivorous, eating insects, worms, crustaceans, molluscs, and spiders. It has occasionally been known to eat fish, birds' eggs and carrion and human food scraps. It is capable of ingesting grit (Higgins & Davies 1996). During the summer in peak areas of south and south-east Australia, their main, or only food, is maggots obtained from rotting seaweed, and the larvae of sand-hoppers obtained from the top of sandy beaches where rotting seaweed is buried under a thin layer of sand (C.D.T. Minton 2002, pers. comm.).

Feeding behaviours that may make the species vulnerable
The Ruddy Turnstone is diurnal and nocturnal and may feed in different areas depending on the stage of the tidal cycle. They are generally alert, bustling and tame. Their foraging behaviour is distinctive: they feed busily by probing, pecking and prying into crevices, using their sturdy bill to flip over stones, shells, seaweed and other objects. They often dig large holes in sandy areas. They occasionally scavenge on mussels broken open by oystercatchers, Haematopus spp., or on tern eggs broken open by Silver Gulls (Larus novaehollandiae) and, once, on a beachcast human corpse (Higgins & Davies 1996). They also take scraps thrown by humans (de Rebeira 1997; Lane 1987; Schipper et al. 1996). In Roebuck Bay, Western Australia, they are known to hunt slow-moving prey. Some Turnstones feed on rocky reefs, some feed at the sea edge, and some were found feeding mainly on sandy flats (Rogers 1999a).

Migration patterns
The Ruddy Turnstone is migratory, with six recognised populations. The birds move south to non-breeding areas with a partial overlap of populations on passage. There may be two routes of migration to Australia, with birds occurring in east Australia and New Zealand arriving from a migration south across the Pacific from east Asia and returning north via the east coast of Asia. The birds in the western areas of Australia apparently come from populations migrating south from east Asia who then return north via east Asia. A few are known to occur in New Guinea or the Gulf of Carpentaria. They may also associate with Golden Plovers (Pluvialis fulva) on migration, and a ship-assisted passage has been recorded.

Departure from breeding grounds
The Ruddy Turnstone leaves Siberia and St Lawrence Island around July. After breeding many Turnstones occur on Pribilof Island and the Bering Sea. The birds mostly leave from mid-August to early September, with a minority departing in October. On the east Asian migration route the birds travel through countries including Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Mongolia, east China and Hong Kong. They move through Borneo and also Sumatra and Wallacea, mainly from September. They arrive in Darwin, Northern Territory, and in north and south Western Australia from August onwards. Movements into and through Australia continue until at least October. On the trans-Pacific route birds from Pribilof Island have been sighted on islands of the south-west Pacific, New Zealand, and east Australia. Only a small proportion of the population migrating across the Pacific reaches Australia. Most birds move from island to island, probably flying directly from Pribilof Island to the Hawaiian or Marshall Islands. They arrive early September–November. At Suva Pt, Fiji, numbers increase from mid-September to late October. They arrive at Solomon Island after mid-September and small numbers usually arrive in New Guinea in August. The birds pass through the Torres Strait and arrive in east Australia from September. They arrive in South Australia and Victoria from September, with most arriving between November–December. Inland records from September–November suggest some movement overland to the south coast. Hundreds occur in north Tasmania but few move further south. Some are known to arrive at Lord Howe Island from September, possibly en route to New Zealand, where the birds first arrive from mid- to late August. In south-east Australia, numbers at most sites are stable from December–February, though some movement does occur. At some sites birds are not present every year (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Return to breeding grounds
In New Zealand, migration back to the breeding grounds begins by February, but some birds leave New Zealand as late as May. In Australia, the birds leave sites in the south from mid-March. At some sites the population remains high into April (Higgins & Davies 1996) with most departing during the first three weeks of April. (C.D.T. Minton 2002, pers. comm.). Coastal regions of South Australia experience large influxes in March and April. This is also observed in south and central NSW, suggesting that birds sometimes move short distances along coasts before leaving. In Victoria the birds store enough energy to fly non-stop to South-East Asia or the nearby Pacific islands. No influxes occur in north-east or north Australia. The lack of inland records in March and April also suggest that some birds fly over north Australia. Some birds from the south may touch down in north-west or, less often, north Australia (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Some adults in north-west Australia are thought to be capable of flying non-stop to the south coast of China. Small numbers leave New Guinea in January. In the Pacific, they leave Suva Pt, Fiji, near the end of April, and leave Solomon Island by early May. The north route of birds spending the non-breeding season in the Pacific is not known. It is thought that they may fly non-stop from the south-west Pacific to Japan. The have been observed passing through Kuala Selangor, and Malaysia, mainly from March-May. They then pass through Hong Kong from late March to early June, especially during the last half of April. The greatest numbers pass through Beidaihe, China, in early May. The birds pass Korea and are more abundant in Japan on north migration. The arrive in north and north-east Chukotka, Siberia, during May. Most first year birds remain in non-breeding areas during the first breeding season (Higgins & Davies 1996), and many of these birds obtain a significant amount of breeding plumage. Almost all migrate north for the first time at two years of age (C.D.T. Minton 2002, pers. comm.).

Migratory pathways and important sites
The Yellow Sea supports about 15% of the Flyway population during north migration and three sites of international importance have been identified, two in South Korea and one in China (Barter 2002).

Tendency to flock or be solitary
The Ruddy Turnstone is commonly seen singly or, more usually, in loose groups of 20–100, along coasts and occasionally inland. They tend to fly in tight coordinated flocks when moving locally, but in loose lines when migrating. The formation of flocks before departure has been recorded from both New Zealand and Australia (Higgins & Davies 1996). They also have a tendency to separate out from other species, but are also known on occasions to feed in close association with other waders such as the Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Red-Necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), and Sanderling (Calidris alba) (C.D.T. Minton 2002, pers. comm.).

There are distinct differences between breeding and non-breeding adults and juveniles.

Breeding adults have a mostly white head, black streaks and black spots on the nape. In contrast, non-breeding adults have a grey to brown head with indistinct black facial patterns. The feet and legs of breeding adults are red-orange in colour. Non-breeding adults, however, have orange legs that are often grey at the joints. Breeding adults have a black neck with a narrow white hindneck collar that broadens into white patches on the side of the breasts. This is in contrast to non-breeding adults who have dull black breasts. Juveniles are similar to adults in the non-breeding plumages except for a few features: they have larger pale patches on the head, their underparts and innerwing coverts are blackish-brown, they have more pale smudging and fringing on the breast and the legs and feet are a dull yellow-brown (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Global Threats
There are a number of threats that affect migratory shorebirds in the Flyway. The greatest threat is indirect and direct habitat loss (Melville 1997). Staging areas used during migration through eastern Asia are being lost and degraded by activities which are reclaiming the mudflats for development or developing them for aquaculture (Barter 2002, 2005c; Ge et al. 2007; Round 2006). This is especially evident in the Yellow Sea, where at least 40% of intertidal areas have been reclaimed. This process is continuing at a rapid rate and may accelerate in the near future (Barter 2002, 2005c). For example, in South Korea, the Mangyeung and Dongjin River estuaries each supported 5% of the combined estimated Flyway populations (and are the most important sites for this species on both northern and southern migration) but they are currently being reclaimed as part of the Saemangeum Reclamation Project (Barter 2002, 2005c). The 33 km sea-wall across these two estuaries was completed in April 2006, resulting in significant change in the 40 100 ha area (Barter 2005c).

Reclamation is also a threat in other areas of the Flyway, such as in Malaysia (Wei et al. 2006). In addition, water regulation and diversion infrastructure in the major tributaries have resulted in the reduction of water and sediment flows (Barter 2002; Barter et al. 1998).

Migratory shorebirds are also adversely affected by pollution, both on passage and in non-breeding areas (Harding et al. 2007; Melville 1997; Round 2006; Wei et al. 2006). Disturbance from human activities, including recreation, shellfish harvesting, fishing and aquaculture is likely to increase significantly in the future (Barter et al. 2005; Davidson & Rothwell 1993).

It is predicted that the rate of decrease in the intertidal area in the Yellow Sea will accelerate (Barter 2002). In addition, intensive oil exploration and extraction, and reduction in river flows due to upstream water diversion, are other potentially significant threats in parts of China where this species is present in internationally significant numbers (Barter 2005c; Barter et al. 1998).

Global warming and associated changes in sea level are likely to have a long-term impact on the breeding, staging and non-breeding grounds of migratory waders (Harding et al. 2007).

Hunting is still a very serious problem for waders in China, and this species is sometimes caught (Ming et al. 1998).

Australia
Within Australia, there are a number of threats common to most migratory shorebirds, including the Ruddy Turnstone.

Habitat loss
The loss of important habitat reduces the availability of foraging and roosting sites. This affects the ability of the birds to build up the energy stores required for successful migration and breeding. Some sites are important all year round for juveniles who may stay in Australia throughout the breeding season until they reach maturity. A variety of activities may cause habitat loss. These include direct losses through land clearing, inundation, infilling or draining. Indirect loss may occur due to changes in water quality, hydrology or structural changes near roosting sites (DEWHA 2009aj).

Habitat degradation
As most migratory shorebirds have specialized feeding techniques, they are particularly susceptible to slight changes in prey sources and foraging environments. Activities that cause habitat degradation include (but are not restricted to): (1) loss of marine or estuarine vegetation, which is likely to alter the dynamic equilibrium of sediment banks and mudflats; (2) invasion of intertidal mudflats by weeds such as cord grass; (3) water pollution and changes to the water regime; (4) changes to the hydrological regime and (5) exposure of acid sulphate soils, hence changing the chemical balance at the site (DEWHA 2009aj).

Disturbance
Disturbance can result from residential and recreational activities including; fishing, power boating, four wheel driving, walking dogs, noise and night lighting. While some disturbances may have only a low impact it is important to consider the combined effect of disturbances with other threats. Roosting and foraging birds are sensitive to discrete, unpredictable disturbances such as loud noises (i.e. construction sites) and approaching objects (i.e. boats). Sustained disturbances can prevent shorebirds from using parts of the habitat (DEWHA 2009aj).

Direct mortality
Direct mortality is a result of human activities around the migration pathways of shorebirds and at roosting and foraging sites. Examples include the construction of wind farms in migration or movement pathways, bird strike due to aircraft, hunting, chemical and oil spills (DEWHA 2009aj).

Governments and conservation groups have undertaken a wide range of activities relating to migratory shorebird conservation (AGDEH 2005c) both in Australia and in cooperation with other countries associated with the Flyway.

Australia
The Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (AGDEH 2006f) outlines national activities to support the Flyway shorebird conservation initiatives and provides a strategic framework to ensure these activities and future research and management actions are integrated and remain focused on the long-term survival of migratory shorebird populations and their habitats.

Since 1996–97, the Australian Government has invested approximately $5 000 000 of Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funding in projects contributing to migratory shorebird conservation (DEWHA 2007e). This funding has been distributed across a range of important projects, including the implementation of a nationally coordinated monitoring programme that will produce robust, long-term population data able to support the conservation and effective management of shorebirds and their habitat, migration studies using colour bands and leg flags, and development of a shorebird conservation toolkit to assist users to develop and implement shorebird conservation projects.

Birds Australia is currently co-ordinating the Shorebirds 2020 project, which aims to monitor shorebird populations at important sites throughout Australia. Birdlife International is identifying sites and regions which are important to various species of birds, including shorebirds, and the processes that are affecting them. The aim of these activities is to inform decisions on the management of shorebird habitat. It may be possible to rehabilitate some degraded wetlands or to create artificial wader feeding or roosting sites to replace those destroyed by development, such as by creating artificial sandflats and sand islands from dredge spoil and by building breakwaters (Dening 2005; Straw 1992a, 1999).

The Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 (DEWHA 2009aj) provides guidelines for determining the impacts of proposed actions on migratory shorebirds. The policy statement also provides mitigation strategies to reduce the level and extent of those impacts. The policy aims to promote ecologically sustainable development that allows for the continued ecological function of important habitat for migratory shorebirds (DEWHA 2009aj).

International
Australia has played an important role in building international cooperation to conserve migratory birds. In addition to being party to international agreements on migratory species, Australia is also a member of the Partnership for the Conservation of Migratory Waterbirds and the Sustainable Use of their Habitats in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (Flyway Partnership), which was launched in Bogor, Indonesia on 6 November 2006. Prior to this agreement, Australia was party to the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy and the Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network.

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network, which is part of the broader Flyway Partnership, promotes the identification and protection of key sites for migratory shorebirds. Australia has 17 sites in the network (Partnership EAAF 2008):

  • Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory (1 375 940 ha)
  • Parry Lagoons, Western Australia (36 111 ha)
  • Thomsons Lake, Western Australia (213 ha)
  • Moreton Bay, Queensland (113 314 ha)
  • Hunter Estuary, NSW (2916 ha)
  • Corner Inlet, Victoria (51 500 ha)
  • The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina & Lake Albert, South Australia (140 500 ha)
  • Orielton Lagoon, Tasmania (2920 ha)
  • Logan Lagoon, Tasmania (2320 ha)
  • Western Port, Victoria (59 297 ha)
  • Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria (16 540 ha)
  • Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park, Victoria
  • Discovery Bay Coastal Park, Victoria
  • Bowling Green Bay, Queensland
  • Shoalwater Bay, Queensland
  • Great Sandy Strait, Queensland
  • Currawinya National Park, Queensland

There have been no mitigation measures developed specifically for this species. However the recent Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 (DEWHA 2009aj) provides guidelines for mitigation strategies for migratory shorebirds in general.

Marine bioregional plans have been developed for four of Australia's marine regions - South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East. Marine Bioregional Plans will help improve the way decisions are made under the EPBC Act, particularly in relation to the protection of marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of our oceans and their resources by our marine-based industries. Marine Bioregional Plans improve our understanding of Australia's oceans by presenting a consolidated picture of the biophysical characteristics and diversity of marine life. They describe the marine environment and conservation values of each marine region, set out broad biodiversity objectives, identify regional priorities and outline strategies and actions to address these priorities. Click here for more information about marine bioregional plans.

The Ruddy Turnstone has been identified as a conservation value in the North-west (DSEWPaC 2012y) Marine Region. See Schedule 2 of the North-west Marine Bioregional Plan (DSEWPaC 2012y) for regional advice. Maps of Biologically Important Areas have been developed for Ruddy Turnstone in the North-west (DSEWPaC 2012y) Marine Region and may provide additional relevant information. Go to the conservation values atlas to view the locations of these Biologically Important Areas. The "species group report card - seabirds & migratory shorebirds" for the North-west (DSEWPaC 2012y) Marine Region provides additional information.

There have been several studies on the Ruddy Turnstone: many referred to by Bamford and colleagues(2008).

There is a detailed summary of all that is known of the species in Australasia in Higgins and Davies (1996), and international summaries in Cramp and Simmons (1983) and Wiersma (1996). There are also general discussions and summaries of the ecology, conservation and threats of this species and other shorebirds in Geering and colleagues (2007), Barter (2002) and Watkins (1993).

The Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (AGDEH 2006f) and The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) also contain actions aimed at the conservation of migratory birds within Australia.

The Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 (DEWHA 2009aj) provides guidelines for determining the impacts of proposed actions on migratory shorebirds. The policy statement also provides mitigation strategies to reduce the level and extent of those impacts.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Harvesting for recreational purposes Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Global warming and associated sea level changes Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Oil and Gas Drilling:Exploration drilling Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Oil and Gas Drilling:Production of oil and gas resources Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Disturbance, especially from human recreational activities and development Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:unspecified Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Other Ecosystem Modifications:Loss and damage of intertidal areas due to land reclamation Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Pollution:Industrial and Military Effluents:Pollution and increased sediment loads Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Changes to water and sediment flows leading to erosion, siltation and pollution Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Habitat degradation and loss of water quality due to salinity, siltaton, nutrification and/or pollution Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2005c). Background Paper to the Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment and Heritage. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/migratory/publications/pubs/shorebird-plan-background.pdf.

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2006f). Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment and Heritage. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/migratory/publications/shorebird-plan.html.

Bamford M., D. Watkins, W. Bancroft, G. Tischler & J. Wahl (2008). Migratory Shorebirds of the East Asian - Australasian Flyway: Population estimates and internationally important sites. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Wetlands International-Oceania. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/migratory/publications/shorebirds-east-asia.html.

Barter, M.A. (2002). Shorebirds of the Yellow Sea: Importance, Threats and Conservation Status. Wetlands International Global Series No. 8, International Wader Studies 12. Canberra, ACT: Wetlands International.

Barter, M.A. (2005c). Yellow Sea-driven priorities for Australian shorebird researchers. In: Straw, P., ed. Status and Conservation of Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Proceedings of the Australasian Shorebirds Conference 13-15 December 2003, Canberra, Australia. Sydney, NSW: Wetlands International Global Series 18, International Wader Studies 17.

Barter, M.A. & K. Harris (2002). Occasional count no 6. Shorebird counts in the NE South Australia-SW Queensland region in September-October 2000. The Stilt. 41:44-47.

Barter, M.A., D. Tonkinson, J.Z. Lu, S.Y. Zhu, Y. Kong, T.H. Wang, Z.W. Li & X.M. Meng (1998). Shorebird numbers in the Huang He (Yellow River) Delta during the 1997 northward migration. Stilt. 33:15-26.

Barter, M.A., K. Gosbell, L. Cao & Q. Xu (2005). Northward shorebird migration surveys in 2005 at four new Yellow Sea sites in Jiangsu and Liaoning Provinces. Stilt. 48:13-17.

Birdlife International (2009). Arenaria interpres. IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Version 2009.2. [Online]. Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/144015/0.

Collins, P., A. Boyle, C. Minton & R. Jessop (2001). The importance of inland claypans for waders in Roebuck Bay, Broome, NW Australia. Stilt. 38:4--8.

Cramp, S. & K.E.L. Simmons, eds. (1983). Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Volume 3, Waders to Gulls. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davidson, N. & P. Rothwell (1993). Disturbance to waterfowl on estuaries. Wader Study Group Bulletin. 68.

de Rebeira, P. (1997). A further record of Ruddy Turnstones, Arenaria interpres, eating bread. Stilt. 30:55.

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, D.A. Christie & J. Sargatal (1996). Handbook of the Birds of the World: Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.

Delaney, S. & D. Scott, eds. (2002). Waterbird Population Estimates. 3rd Edition. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wetlands International.

Dening, J. (2005). Roost management in south-East Queensland: building partnerships to replace lost habitat. In: Straw, P., ed. Status and Conservation of Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Proceedings of the Australasian Shorebirds Conference 13-15 December 2003. Page(s) 94-96. Sydney, NSW. Wetlands International Global Series 18, International Wader Studies 17.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2009aj). Draft Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/migratory-shorebirds.html.

Garnett, S.T. (1989). Wading Bird Abundance and Distribution - South-eastern Coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. RAOU Report Series. 58:1-39.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Ge, Z.-M., T-H. Wang, X. Zhou, K.-Y. Wang & W.-Y. Shi (2007). Changes in the spatial distribution of migratory shorebirds along the Shanghai shoreline, China, between 1984 and 2004. Emu. 107:19-27.

Geering, A., L. Agnew, S. Harding, ed. (2007). Shorebirds of Australia. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Harding, S.B., J.R. Wilson & D.W. Geering (2007). Threats to shorebirds and conservation actions. In: Geering, A., L. Agnew & S. Harding, eds. Shorebirds of Australia. Page(s) 197-213. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Higgins, P.J. & S.J.J.F. Davies, eds (1996). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume Three - Snipe to Pigeons. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Lane, B.A. (1987). Shorebirds in Australia. Sydney, NSW: Reed.

Melville, D.S. (1997). Threats to waders along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. In: Straw, P., ed. Shorebird conservation in the Asia-Pacific region. Page(s) 15-34. Melbourne, Victoria: Birds Australia.

Minton, C.D.T. (2002). Personal communication. Australasian Wader Studies Group.

Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (Partnership EAAF) (2008). East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network: October 2008. [Online]. Available from: http://www.eaaflyway.net/documents/Flyway-Network-Sites-Oct-08.pdf.

Rogers, D.I. (1999a). What determines shorebird feeding distribution in Roebuck Bay?. In: Pepping M., T. Piersma, G. Pearson & M. Lavaleye, eds. Intertidal Sediments and Benthic Animals of Roebuck Bay, Western Australia. Page(s) 145-174. Perth, Wetsern Australia: Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, WA CALM, Curtin University for Technology.

Round, P.D. (2006). Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand. Stilt. 50:96-102.

Schipper, C.J., M.A. Weston & J.M. Peter (1996). Scavenging behaviour of Ruddy Turnstones, Arenaria interpres. Stilt. 29:39-40.

Skewes, J. (2003). Report on the population monitoring counts, 2002. Stilt. 44:56-62.

Straw, P. (1992a). Relocation of Shorebirds. A Feasibility Study and Management Options. Sydney, NSW: Unpublished report by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union for the Federal Airports Corporation.

Straw, P. (1999). Habitat remediation - a last resort?. Stilt. 35:66.

Watkins, D. (1993). A national plan for shorebird conservation in Australia. RAOU Report Series. 90.

Wiersma, P. (1996). Charadriidae (Plovers) species accounts. In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Page(s) 411-442. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.

Wilson, J.R. (2001a). The January and February 2001 Victoria wader count. Stilt. 40:55-64.

World Wildlife Federation Australia (WWF) (n.d). Shorebird Conservation Project and Threatened Species Network. [Online]. Available from: http://www.wwf.org.au/publications/shore_tas/.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Arenaria interpres in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:34:04 +1000.