Birdorable Ruddy Turnstone

Today we add a small, dapper shorebird to Birdorable. It's our Ruddy Turnstone!

In breeding plumage, as depicted in our Birdorable illustration, Ruddy Turnstones have white underparts, black and rufous upperparts, with black and white detailing around the face and neck. Outside of breeding, the Ruddy Turnstone's upperparts are more uniformly drab greyish brown.

Ruddy Turnstones are opportunistic feeders who search for prey in a variety of ways, including searching rocky shorelines and breakers by turning over stones (naturally!).

Ruddy Turnstones have a wide global range. They breed across the low Arctic in places like northern Alaska and the northern coast of Siberia. These impressive migrants winter along ocean shorelines nearly all over the world, including around the entire continent of Australia, both coasts of South America, and all around Africa.

Ruddy Turnstone photo

Tomorrow we'll add a species of waterfowl with a wintery name. Can you guess this bird?

Birdorable bonanza preview #9

Cute Ruddy Turnstone Gifts

If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the Piping Plover.

When it comes to cute baby birds, it's hard to beat precocial shorebird chicks. Precocial chicks are ready and able to leave the nest soon after hatching. So they are covered in downy feathers, their eyes are open, but they are still tiny.

Piping Plovers are threatened, so their nests are monitored in several locations, leading to some spectacular photos of the extremely adorable chicks as they first make their way in the world.

Piping Plovers use a scrape on open beach habitat to nest. The scrape may be lined with small pebbles and shells. Incubation is performed by both the male and female, and takes around 26 to 28 days. They can walk away from the nest within hours of hatching.

Piping Plover chicks by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Piping Plover chicks and eggs by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (public domain)
Piping Plover chicks by USDA NRCS Montana (public domain)
Piping Plover chick by Russ (CC BY 2.0)
Piping Plover chick by Russ (CC BY 2.0)
Piping Plover chick by Russ (CC BY 2.0)
Piping Plover chick by Seney National Wildlife Refuge (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Piping Plover chick by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (public domain)
Piping Plover chick by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (public domain)
Piping Plover chicks by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (public domain)
Young Piping Plover by Isaac Sanchez (CC BY 2.0)

Cute Piping Plover T-Shirts & Gifts

Our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition has just has a few more days to go! Today's new bird is a widespread species of plover: the Black-bellied Plover!

Birdorable Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plovers are medium-sized shorebirds that breed in the high Arctic, in tundra habitat. During the winter months, this migratory species can be found along ocean coasts all around the world.

Black-bellied Plovers feed on insects and some plant material while breeding on the Arctic tundra. Their winter diet is very different, with coastal prey like crustaceans, marine worms and more on the menu.

Black-bellied Plovers change their look along with their location throughout the year. Breeding adult plovers have a striking black and white pattern on the back with a white-bordered black belly, breast, neck, and face. During the winter the plumage is much more subdued, with greyish upperparts and dull white underparts. Outside of North America the species is known as the Grey Plover.

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Black-bellied Plover in breeding plumage by nigel (CC BY 2.0)
Black-Bellied Plover, Winter Plumage. Barnegat N.J.
Black-bellied Plover in winter plumage by Peter Massas (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Black-bellied Plover joins Birdorable today as our 638th cute cartoon bird. Be sure to check out our selection of apparel and gifts featuring our Birdorable Black-bellied Plover.

Tomorrow our Bonanza will reveal a type of heron with a very wide bill. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

Birdorable Piping Plover on Word

Everybody loves plovers, they are the cutest thing on the planet, and you can't spell Plovers without "Love". Happy Valentine's Day to everyone and if you're looking for some cute heart-themed gifts for your special birder then check out the designs with customizable products in our love and hearts section.

The Egyptian Plover is a beautiful species of wader that lives in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the common name, their present range does not extend to any part of Egypt. The bird is sometimes known by another name: Crocodile Bird.

During his travels to Egypt in 459 BC, the Greek historian Herodotus recorded a fascinating observation: a small bird, which he identified as the Egyptian Plover, engaging in what appeared to be a symbiotic interaction with a crocodile. According to Herodotus, this bird was seen picking out food from the open mouth of a crocodile, a behavior presumed to be mutually beneficial. The crocodile would receive a thorough cleaning of its teeth, while the bird enjoyed an effortless meal.

However, the reliability of this account has been a subject of debate. Herodotus, known as the world's first historian, was also nicknamed "The Father of Lies," suggesting that some of his observations might have been exaggerated or misinterpreted. The myth of the Crocodile Bird was later revived by explorers and naturalists in the 19th and 20th centuries, with personal eyewitness accounts from a German zoologist and a British birdwatcher. Yet, these accounts have been widely disputed and lack substantial corroborative evidence.

In fact, there is no definitive scientific record of a cleaning symbiotic relationship between any crocodilian species and any bird species. This absence of evidence casts doubt on the validity of the Egyptian Plover's role as a Crocodile Bird.

Despite the questionable authenticity of this behavior, the moniker "Crocodile Bird" undeniably adds an aura of intrigue and mystique to the Egyptian Plover. It's a nickname that captures the imagination, painting a picture of a fearless bird in a daring dance with one of nature's most formidable reptiles. Despite its questionable background, the nickname Crocodile Bird does make the Egyptian Plover sound kind of cool, don't you think?

Birdorable Crocodile Bird Gifts

11 Birdorable Piping Plovers

On the eleventh day of Birdorable, the air was filled with the charming tunes of 11 Piping Plovers! As our 12 Days of Birdorable celebration marches on, we spotlight the utterly adorable Piping Plover, a bird that captures the essence of festive joy with its delightful presence.

Drawing inspiration from the "Eleven Pipers Piping" verse of the iconic "The 12 Days of Christmas" song, it's easy to see why the Piping Plover is a fitting feathered equivalent for today's gift. Unlike the traditional musicians playing their pipes, these birds bring their own unique melody to the mix, serenading the air with their distinctive, high-pitched calls that echo the sound of pipe-pipe-pipe-pipe. It's as if nature's own band is playing a tune, perfectly in sync with the holiday spirit.

Piping Plovers are more than just their musical call; they're a marvel of the avian world. With their compact, rounded bodies, sand-colored plumage, and striking black bands across the forehead and neck, they are a sight to behold. These characteristics not only make them adorable but also serve as excellent camouflage against the sandy beaches and shores they call home.

Despite their cute appearance and joyful demeanor, Piping Plovers are a symbol of resilience and vulnerability. Classified as Near Threatened on the global scale, their populations face significant threats from habitat loss, human disturbance, and predation. Efforts to protect their nesting grounds and raise awareness about their conservation needs are crucial for ensuring that the melodic call of the Piping Plover continues to grace our coastlines.

This is the eleventh day of our 12 Days of Birdorable holiday event. Previously featured were:

Cute Piping Plover Gifts

This week's feature t-shirt design is our Birdorable Dunlin, a medium-sized sandpiper that lives across much of the northern hemisphere. They are common shorebirds for many birders around the world. Like many other wading birds, they display different plumage in breeding season versus winter. Our cute Birdorable Dunlin is shown here in full breeding plumage, including the conspicuous black belly patch.

Birdorable Dunlin

This week's highlighted t-shirt is this Plovers Love design featuring our Birdorable Piping Plover sitting on the word "PLOVERS" with "LOVE" in red. Plovers are found around the world and there are about 40 different species. Who doesn't love these adorable little wading birds?

Plovers Love
Cute Birdorable Snowy Plovers

If you've ever strolled along a beach in North America or a coastal mudflat, there's a chance you've been in the presence of one of the shore's most charming inhabitants without even realizing it. The Snowy Plover, a small and often overlooked bird, has recently flapped its way into the Birdorable family, and we couldn't be more thrilled to introduce you to this adorable avian.

The Snowy Plover is a small wader in the plover family that frequents sandy beaches and saline lake shores in parts of the Americas. With their pale brown to gray upperparts and white underparts, these birds blend seamlessly into their sandy habitats, a perfect camouflage against predators. What makes the Snowy Plover particularly endearing is its size; weighing just about 50 grams (roughly the weight of a deck of cards) and measuring around 6 to 7 inches in length, they are the epitome of cuteness.

Despite their unassuming appearance, Snowy Plovers are fascinating creatures. They exhibit remarkable nesting behaviors, laying their eggs in simple scrapes in the ground. These nests are often nothing more than slight depressions in the sand, lined with shells and debris, making them incredibly hard to spot. The camouflage is so effective that the nests and chicks are often invisible until you're almost stepping on them!

Snowy Plovers are also known for their dedication to their young. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs, and once hatched, the chicks are precocial, meaning they're up and running around just hours after emerging. However, they still rely on their parents to keep them warm and protect them from the elements and predators.

Snowy Plover and Chicks

Snowy Plover and Chicks by Channel City Camera Club (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

But life isn't all sunny skies and sandy beaches for the Snowy Plover. These birds face significant challenges, primarily due to habitat loss, human disturbance, and predation. Their nesting sites are often at risk from beach development, recreational activities, and the encroachment of invasive plant species, which can dramatically alter their natural habitats. Conservation efforts are underway in many areas to protect these delicate habitats and the birds that rely on them. Measures such as restricting access to nesting areas during breeding season, habitat restoration, and predator management are essential to ensure the survival of Snowy Plovers in the wild.

By adopting the Snowy Plover into our flock, we hope to raise awareness and inspire a love and respect for these and other threatened species. Whether you're a birdwatcher, a conservationist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, the Snowy Plover is a bird worth knowing and protecting.

So the next time you're walking along a beach, keep an eye out for these tiny beachcombers scuttling along the shoreline. And remember, the presence of Snowy Plovers and other shorebirds is a sign of a healthy, functioning ecosystem. By protecting them, we're not only saving a cute and fascinating species but also preserving the beauty and biodiversity of our coastal environments for future generations to enjoy.

Snowy Plover by Channel City Camera Club (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Cute Snowy Plover Gifts