Range/Geographical Distribution: Breeds from Alaska to the Hudson Bay and spends the winter along the coast from Alaska and Massachusetts southward.
Habitat: Coastal tundra, mudflats, marshes, estuaries, sandy beaches, and shores of lakes and ponds.
Similar Species: Willet, sanderling, and ruddy turnstone.
Description: Small mottled brown shorebird with a large dark bill that droops towards the tip. During breeding season, the dunlin has a black belly patch and rusty brown wings and back. Non-breeding birds have grey wings and back and a white belly.
Size: Length: 6-9” Wingspan: 14-15” Weight: 48-64g
Food: Insects and insect larvae, marine worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and other marine invertebrates.
Breeding: Breeds in the wet coastal tundra, nests in a shallow scrape in the ground, and usually lays four brown-spotted eggs .
Predators: Avian predators including merlin, peregrine falcons, owls, and other hawks.
Conservation Status: Listed as least concern by IUCN.
Interesting Facts: The dunlin is a migratory, circumpolar breeder with different sub-populations, some that migrate in short coastal flights and others that migrate with long, non-stop flights over land.
On the Coast: The dunlin spends the winter along Georgia’s coast and can often be seen wandering up and down the surf zone in search of prey.