Illustrator Christina Mattison Ebert shares depictions and information on coastal birds
On the Texas Gulf Coast, birdwatchers likely will spot ruddy turnstones trotting daintily near the shoreline, flipping pebbles and shells to uncover insects and crustaceans for food during the winter. While this small member of the sandpiper family might look slight in stature, make no mistake — it’s a mighty bird and formidable flyer.
About 10 years ago, scientists at the British Antarctic Survey strapped tiny light-sensitive geotrackers to ruddy turnstones and monitored migrations. The study found that these tiny birds can fly upward of 16,000 miles round-trip between breeding grounds in the Arctic and wintering grounds in Australia. In fact, ruddy turnstones can travel more than 300,000 miles in a lifetime — about 12 times around the circumference of Earth.
FUN FACT: During breeding season, the females often leave the family group within one to two weeks, while the male stays until the young fledge.