Wildlife Journal Junior!
New Hampshire PBS

Home       |       Wild Files       |       N.H. Animals       |       Animals A-Z       |       Watch Online

Dunlin - Calidris alpina



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Charadriiformes 
 Family: Scolopacidae 
 Genus:  Calidris
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


DunlinThe dunlin is a medium-sized shore bird about 7 to 8 inches in length. It has a long, dark bill with a little downward dip at the end. It has a black patch on its belly and black legs. Its back and wings are reddish-brown, and its head and chest are white with brownish specks. In the winter, the dunlin is a grayish color. The dunlin used to be known as the red-backed sandpiper.


mapThe dunlin breeds from western and northern Alaska east to the Hudson Bay. It winters along the coast from southern Alaska and Massachusetts south to Mexico. It is also found in northern Europe and Asia.


The dunlin nests on the tundra and winters on beaches, river and lake shores, mudflats and sandflats.



DunlinThe dunlin eats insects and larvae, marine worms, small crustaceans, snails, and small fish. The dunlin is sometimes called the "sewing machine" because of the way it bobs its head up and down and pokes into the ground as it probes for food.

Life Cycle

The female dunlin lays four eggs. The chicks hatch in 21-22 days and fledge when they are 19-21 days old.


In winter, dunlins gather in huge flocks. If they are startled, they all fly off together, turning and flying in unison!

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Mike Nelson cc logo