Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Dunlin

Dunlin
Calidris alpina
Sandpiper-like Birds | Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae

An estimated 41% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

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.

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.

Voice

A soft cheerp or chit-lit.

Nesting

4 olive eggs, blotched with brown, in a grass clump on a dry hummock on the open tundra.

Habitat

Nests on tundra; winters on beaches, mudflats, sand flats, and inland lake and river shores.

Range/Migration

Breeds from western and northern Alaska east to Hudson Bay. Winters along coasts from southern Alaska and Massachusetts southward. Also in Eurasia.