Black Turnstone is associated with the rocky shorelines of much of the
western coast of North America, where they can be found overwintering and
when in migration. They actively forage for barnacles and limpets
while clambering over rocks near the surfline. They are often joined
in this rocky habitat by Surfbirds.
The species breeds in a limited range along the western coast of Alaska, and
the global population has been estimated at less than 100,000, but
populations generally seem to be stable at this time.
Habitat: During migration and in winter, they are
found on rocky shorelines and rocky islands. During the summer
breeding season, they are found on tundra, typically near the coast.
Diet: During migration and in winter, they
primarily feed on mollusks and crustaceans. In summer on the breeding
grounds, they feed heavily on insects and spiders. They will also
sometimes eat seeds and berries in the summer.
Behavior: Small flocks of Black Turnstones form in
the winter and in migration, with foraging usually done communally.
Nesting: Pairs of Black Turnstones are thought to
mate for life. The nest of a Black Turnstone is built in a shallow
depression on the ground, and is primarily constructed of grasses lining the
depression. Both parents help to incubate the eggs, and both parents
will tend to the young for the first few weeks, although the female usually
departs the breeding grounds before the male.
Song: The song of the Black Turnstone is a long
rattling trill with variations in pitch and tone. They also have a
crispy chattering flight call.
Migration: Highly migratory, the Black Turnstone
summers in a few select locations on the western and northern Alaskan coast.
The summer range includes the coastline of much of western North America.
Very similar in structure to the Ruddy
Turnstone, but plumage differences are generally obvious.
Conservation Status: The range of the Black
Turnstone is quite large, and population trends are not severe, thus the
IUCN cites Black Turnstones as a species of "Least Concern". However,
the breeding range of the species is relatively limited, leading Partners in
Flight to list it as a species of "Special Concern", while the U.S Shorebird
Conservation Plan lists it as a "Species of High Concern".
Photo Information: December 2011 - Coastal
California near San Francisco - Terry Sohl