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How many breeding endemic bird species in the USA?

The USA has 13 breeding endemic bird species.

Black Turnstone

The Black Turnstone - Arenaria melanocephala – is endemic to the west coast of North America and breeds only in Alaska. It winters on rocky shores along the Pacific coast of North America from southern Alaska southwards as far as north-west Mexico.


Breeding-plumaged adults have a black head and breast apart from a white spot between the eye and bill, a white stripe over the eye and white flecks on the sides of the breast. The upperparts are blackish-brown with pale fringes to the wing-coverts and scapular feathers. The belly and vent are white. In flight it shows a white wingbar, white shoulder patch and white tail with a broad black band across it. There is white from the lower back to the uppertail-coverts apart from a dark bar across the rump. The black bill is slightly upturned. The legs and feet are blackish-brown with a reddish tinge.


They have a variety of calls, especially a rattling trill which can be heard throughout the year. Other calls include a loud, screeching alarm call and a soft, purring call uttered to young chicks. Displaying males produce a long series of staccato notes in flight as well as chirruping trills on the ground.


It feeds mainly on invertebrates, particularly crustaceans and mollusks in winter and insects during the breeding season. Seeds, eggs and carrion are also eaten. Limpets and acorn barnacles are the most important food items on the wintering grounds of the Black Turnstone. During the breeding season, they eat many insects as well as some berries and seeds.


The bulk of the population nests in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. It arrives on its breeding ground from early May to early June with the males arriving first. The nest is a scrape dug mainly by the male. It is usually located amongst sedges or grasses. Four olive or pale green eggs with dark spots are laid. The eggs are incubated for between 21 to 24 days by both parents. The young birds are able to fly well after 25–34 days.

Conservation Status – Least concern

The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan lists Black Turnstone as a "Species of High Concern," based on relative abundance, threats on breeding grounds, threats on non-breeding grounds, and most importantly, its very small breeding distribution. The entire population of Black Turnstone, numbering approximately 80,000 birds, breeds in a narrow stretch of coastal plain in western Alaska. This concentration of a limited population in a restricted geographic area places the species at a higher risk of being seriously affected by a major catastrophe.


Black Turnstones are common throughout the winter on rocky shores along the outer coast of Washington and in Puget Sound south to Seattle.



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