They might just be the coolest shorebirds around
by: Ginger Andrews
photography by: Tom Griswold
Watching bird activity is one of the delights of the beach. As August rolls around, shorebird migration heats up, and Nantucket’s beaches are known for their seasonally-changing birds. Whether they run with waves or stalk along the shallows, they are part of the life of a natural, wild shoreline.
Knowing a little bit about the birds enhances that sense of place. To start, it helps identify what birds are present. The Ruddy Turnstone is a great one to begin with. It is a distinctive bird, easy to pick out from the crowd once you know what to look for.
Unlike so many birds, the names of which seem completely unrelated to how a bird looks in the field, Ruddy Turnstones are named for one of their most distinctive behaviors: flipping over pebbles, small rocks, shells or heaps of seaweed. They literally turn over stones in their quest for food.
Medium-sized birds, they are a good metric to use for comparison with other shorebirds. They stalk along the quiet edges of sandbars or mudflats, their attitude horizontal, waddling along like little foot- balls. Their bright-orange legs are sturdy and thick, the bones built to support their weight-lifting activity.
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