Calidris Alpina – Dunlin

Calidris Alpina - Dunlin found in the US

The dunlin (Calidris alpina) is a tiny wader that was previously classified with the other Erolia “stints.” The English term is a dialect variant of “dunling,” which was first attested between 1531 and 1532. It is derived from dun, “dull brown,” and the suffix -ling, which refers to a person or thing with the specified quality.

Quick Overview: Calidris Alpina – Dunlin
Body size: Around 7.5-8.5 in (19-22 cm) and a weight of 85 g (2.99 oz).
Main colors: Black, Red-Brown, White, Gray
Range: Eastern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: March, April, May, September, October, November
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Dunlin Description

It has a long, black bill that ends in a little downward dip. Its belly is black, as are its legs. It has a reddish-brown back and wings, and a white head and chest with brownish specks. The dunlin is a grayish color in the winter.

Calidris Alpina - Dunlin found in the US
Calidris Alpina – Dunlin. Photo by: Andrew Sloan


These birds have a length of 7.5-8.5 in (19-22 cm) and a weight of 85 g (2.99 oz). Their wings could range from 14.5-15.75 in (37-40 cm).


On nesting grounds, the dunlin’s diet is dominated by insects; in coastal locations, it feeds on molluscs, worms, and crustaceans.


Dunlins are both predator and prey. They are just one of the numerous species that contribute to the general diversity of life that is necessary for tundra, coastal mudflats, and estuarine ecosystems.


During the winter, the dunlin is extremely sociable, forming enormous flocks on coastal mudflats or sandy beaches. Numerous flocks can frequently be seen swirling in synchronized flight during migration stops or in their winter habitat.

Calidris Alpina Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriifomes
  • Family: Scolopacidae
  • Genus: Calidris
  • Species: Calidris alpina

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds are during the Spring season (March-May) and during the Autumn season (September – November).

Distribution of the Dunlin in the USA

Breeds along the arctic coast, from western and northern Alaska to Hudson Bay in the east. Winters around the coasts of southern Alaska and Massachusetts, extending south to Mexico; also found in portions of Eurasia.

The Dunlin can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Calidris Alpina – Dunlin

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