Arenaria interpres (Linnaeus, 1758) TT TURNS 5610
Family: Charadriiformes > Scolopacidae

Turnstone, Tom Cadwallender

This colourful wader, its plumage a striking mix of chestnut, black and white, is widespread around our coasts in winter.

Breeding in the Arctic, the Turnstone is primarily a winter visitor; summering birds are usually younger individuals that have not attained breeding condition. The species can be found in any coastal habitat, although has a preference rocky shores.

Turnstones forage on the tideline, flipping over small stones in the search for small crustaceans and insects. But Turnstone are famously indiscriminate in their diet and there is a small sub-genre of the scientific literature enumerating the things they have been recorded eating – from packets of artificial sweetener to decomposing corpses!


Turnstone identification is often straightforward.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Turnstone, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Flight call


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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.




Turnstone winter on sandy beaches, estuaries and rocky shores. They are widespread and occupy most coastal 10-km squares of the UK.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The Turnstone winter distribution has expanded by 9% across Britain & Ireland since the early 1980s, with increases most notable in southwest Ireland, northwest Scotland, and at a few inland sites in Britain.


Turnstones are mostly passage migrants and winter visitors but small numbers can be seen throughout the year, although none breed.

Weekly occurence of Turnstone from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Turnstone ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Turnstone, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Trìlleachan-beag
Welsh: Cwtiad Traeth
Catalan: remena-rocs comú
Czech: kamenácek pestrý
Danish: Stenvender
Dutch: Steenloper
Estonian: kivirullija
Finnish: karikukko
French: Tournepierre à collier
German: Steinwälzer
Hungarian: koforgató
Icelandic: Tildra
Irish: Piardálai Trá
Italian: Voltapietre
Latvian: akmentartinš
Lithuanian: paprastoji akmene
Norwegian: Steinvender
Polish: kamusznik (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: vira-pedras / rola-do-mar
Slovak: kamenár strakatý
Slovenian: kamenjar
Spanish: Vuelvepiedras común
Swedish: roskarl
Folkname: Tanglepicker, Flipbrick, Sea Dotterel


Interpretation and scientific publications about Turnstone from BTO scientists.


Peer-reviewed papers
Avocet - Amy Lewis

Consequences of population change for local abundance and site occupancy of wintering waterbirds

Wavering Waterbirds

2017 | Méndez, V., Gill, J.A., Alves, J.A., Burton, N.H.K. & Davies, R.G.Diversity and Distributions

Protected sites are assigned based on population statistics for vulnerable and endangered species. This new study using WeBS data shows that changes in population size can affect local abundance, and thus influence whether or not key targets are met for site protection.

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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