Calidris alpina




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive, blue green or buff with brown or gray marks.

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

20 - 23

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On or above ground.

Nest Material:

Leaves and grasses.





Dunlin: Medium-sized sandpiper with black-streaked, red-brown upperparts, conspicuous black belly patch and streaked breast. Bill is long and slightly decurved. Sexes are similar. Female is larger and has a longer bill and a more brown hind neck with less contrast. Winter adult has plain gray head, neck and upperparts, faintly spotted gray breast, white chin, throat and lower underparts. Juvenile has pale buff streaked breast; flanks and sides of white belly with lines of bold brown spots; more brown with a scaled appearance.

Range and Habitat

Dunlin: Breeds along the arctic coast from western and northern Alaska east to Hudson Bay. Spends winters along coastlines from southern Alaska and Massachusetts southward to Mexico; also found in parts of Eurasia. Nests on tundra and winters on beaches, mudflats, sand flats, inland lakes, and river shores.

Breeding and Nesting

Dunlin: The males attract a partner by performing display flights. Four olive, blue green or buff eggs marked with brown and gray are laid in a grass clump on a dry hummock in the open tundra. Incubation ranges from 20 to 23 days and is carried out by both parents. The young leave the nest shortly after hatching but are tended by the adults until they are ready to fledge at about 19 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Dunlin: Their diet consists of insects, marine worms, small crustaceans and snails. On occasion, they feed on plant material and rarely small fish. They are a tactile feeder that probes, jabs, and picks in the substrate, often with an open bill. Occasionally they have been seen drinking brackish and salt water by poking the bill into the water, and then tilting the head back.


Dunlin: Call is a simple "kree." Song is a series of frog-like wheezing calls and long trills, such as "wrrrrrah wrrrrrah wrrrrrah" and twittering "chrri-i-i-i-i-i-ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-ri."

Similar Species

Dunlin: Rock Sandpiper has less black on belly and has yellow legs.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area of the face just below the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X