These chunky powerful birds have strong necks and bills well suited to their feeding technique. Their appearance is striking in flight, with white patches on the back, wings and tail. In breeding plumage, The Turnstone is a showy bird, with a black-and-white head, chestnut back, white underparts and red legs. The drabber winter plumage is basically brown above and white below.

Habitat and Distribution

The Turnstone has a circumpolar distribution, and is a very long distance migrant, wintering on coasts as far south as South Africa and Australia. It is thus a common sight on coasts almost everywhere in the world.


This is a generally tame bird and is an opportunist feeder. Unlike most waders, it will scavenge, and has a phenomenal list of recorded food items, including human corpses and coconut.

Calls and Songs

The call is a staccato tuck- tuck- tuck.