: The Little Sandpiper with Big Personality

If you’ve ever taken a stroll along a beach or mudflat, chances are you’ve seen the Dunlin, one of the most widespread shorebirds in North America. These little sandpipers may be small in size but they have big personalities and impressive survival skills. Let’s dive into what makes this bird so special.

Basic Description

The Dunlin (Calidris alpina) is a small wading bird with a stocky build and short, straight bill. During breeding season, their plumage is rusty red on their back and neck while their belly is white. In winter, they lose some of that coloration and become gray-brown all over. They measure around 7-9 inches in length with a wingspan of 16-18 inches.

Where To Find This Bird

Dunlins breed across the sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America during summer months before migrating south for wintering grounds along coasts from Alaska to Argentina as well as inland wetlands such as ponds and lakes.


Dunlins prefer habitats where moist vegetation provides cover for feeding on insects or crustaceans found at low tide zones or shallow water areas such as estuaries or salt marshes.


These birds mainly feed on insects like beetles or flies during breeding season but switch to mollusks like clams when wintering near coastal areas.

Cool Facts

Despite being relatively common among shorebirds throughout its range, there are still several intriguing facts about this species that might surprise you:

  • Dunlins exhibit different types of morphological adaptations depending on whether they breed in tundra (shorter legs), taiga forests (longer wings), or coastal wetlands (longer bills).
  • They are known for their synchronized flocking behavior, often seen flying in tight formations and changing direction simultaneously.
  • Dunlins have the ability to sense magnetic fields, which they use to navigate during migration.

In conclusion, while Dunlins may seem like just another small shorebird at first glance, they are actually full of surprises. With unique adaptations and impressive behavioral traits, these little birds make a big impact on coastal ecosystems around the world.