Ruddy turnstones engage in a variety of behaviours to locate and capture prey. These behaviors can be placed into six general categories:
Routing — The turnstone manipulates piles of seaweed through flicking, bulldozing, and pecking to expose small crustaceans or gastropod molluscs hidden underneath.
Turning stones — As suggested by its name, the turnstone flicks stones with its bill to uncover hidden littorinids and gammarid amphipods.
Digging — With small flicks of its bill, the turnstone creates holes in the ground substrate (usually sand or mud) and then pecks at the exposed prey – often sand-hoppers or seaweed flies.
Probing — The turnstone inserts its bill more than a quarter-length into the ground to get at littorinids and other gastropods.
Hammer–probing — The turnstone cracks open its prey’s shell by using its bill as a hammer, and then extracts the animal inside through pecking and probing.
Surface pecking — The turnstone uses short, shallow pecks (less than a quarter bill-length) to get at prey at or just below the ground’s surface
Willets are flexible in their feeding habits and hunt by walking steadily and pecking prey from the substrate, although they also probe into the mud or silt with their sensitive bill and may actively stalk larger prey in shallow water. A favored prey on the coasts are small fiddler crabs as well as mole crabs, worms, clams and other invertebrates. They have also been known to occasionally eat plant material. Willets also actively hunt more mobile prey such as fish and aquatic insects in the water and will wade up to their bellies to pursue such prey. The sensitive bill means that willets can hunt at night as well as during the day. They are territorial both on the breeding grounds and on the wintering areas but form loose breeding colonies or wintering groups.