Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 41% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.
Description 8 1/2" (22 cm). A starling-sized shorebird. Bill fairly long, with distinct droop at tip. Breeding adults have reddish back, whitish underparts, with black patch in center of belly. Winter birds are dull gray, paler below.
Habitat Nests on tundra; winters on beaches, mudflats, sand flats, and inland lake and river shores.
Nesting 4 olive eggs, blotched with brown, in a grass clump on a dry hummock on the open tundra.
Voice A soft cheerp or chit-lit.
Range Breeds from western and northern Alaska east to Hudson Bay. Winters along coasts from southern Alaska and Massachusetts southward. Also in Eurasia.
Discussion These handsome birds, formerly known as "Red-backed Sandpipers," are very tame and thus easy to approach and study. They are among the hardiest of shorebirds. Thousands sometimes spend the winter months on sandbars or inlets along the coast as far north as southeastern Alaska and southern New England, where they feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and marine worms.