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IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Dunlin is a familiar shorebird around the world, where its bright reddish back and black belly, and long, drooping bill distinguish it from nearly all other shorebirds. It breeds across the top of both North America and Eurasia, and winters along coasts around the northern hemisphere.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

Medium-sized sandpiper. Moderately short neck. Moderately long, drooping bill. Moderately long, blackish legs. Slightly hunched appearance. In breeding plumage has black belly, rufous cap, and rufous back. Nonbreeding plumage is all dull brownish gray, with whitish belly.

Immature Description

Juvenile has reddish back with more scaly edges to back feathers, and brownish black splotches on belly.

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Dunlin Range Map
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Similar Species

  • Rare Curlew Sandpiper similar in nonbreeding plumage, but has white rump and slightly longer legs.
  • Breeding plumaged Rock Sandpiper similar to breeding plumage of Dunlin, but has darker back, less solid dark patch higher up on the belly, has shorter, stouter bill, and yellowish legs.
  • Nonbreeding Purple Sandpiper darker, stouter, has short greenish yellow legs, and bicolored bill.

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    All About Birds blog, First-Ever World Shorebirds Day Highlights Need for Conservation, September 5, 2014.