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Bird Gallery


Dunlin (breeding plumage)

© Robert McFarlane

Calidris alpine

Family: (Scolopacidae) Sandpiper, Phalaropes, and Allies

Preferred Habitat: Coastal mudflats.

Seasonal Occurrence: Abundant winter and spring. Common in the fall.

Notes: The name Dunlin means "little dun-colored (gray-brown) bird". In winter plumage, the Dunlin has pale gray underparts, brownish gray upperparts and light brown streaking on the breast and nape. In breeding plumage, the bird is so much more brightly colored that it seems like a different bird. In springtime, the Dunlin has a black belly, gray streaking on a white neck and white underparts, and rufous marked wings, back and crown. The Dunlin's long, slightly down-curved black bill helps distinguish it from other sandpipers.

Outside of the breeding season, Dunlins gather in large flocks that can number in the tens of thousands. These dynamic, synchronized flocks may twist and bank in unison, in impressive aerial maneuvers.

Dunlin can be found on coastal mudflats and on the shores of ponds, marshes, and lakes. Dunlin forage by probing in mud, sometimes with a very rapid "stitching" motion, probing several times per second.

Our Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary is an excellent location to view Dunlins.
- Vicki Stittleburg

Dunlin (winter plumage)

© Greg Lavaty