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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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
6.3–8.7 in
16–22 cm
14.2–15 in
36–38 cm
1.7–2.3 oz
48–64 g
Other Names
  • Red-backed Sandpiper (English)
  • Becasseau variable (French)
  • Correlimos común (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Dunlin breeding in northern Alaska apparently move west, migrating down the eastern side of Siberia and Asia to Japan and China.
  • The oldest recorded Dunlin was at least 12 years, 5 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.



Breeds in wet coastal tundra. Winters along mudflats, estuaries, marshes, flooded fields, sandy beaches, and shores of lakes and ponds.




Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching
Active and covered with down.
Nest Placement





status via IUCN

Least Concern

Dunlin are abundant, but there is little detailed information on population trends. There are three breeding populations in North America, and at least one appears to have significantly declined in recent decades. According to a 2012 study, the breeding group in central and eastern Canada comprises about 450,000 birds and appears stable. The second population breeds in western Alaska. There was not enough data collected in 2012 to estimate population size, so it remains listed at 550,000, which was the number reported in a 2006 study. This population also appears stable. The third group breeds primarily in northern Alaska and winters in Asia. This population appears to have declined by over 30% since 2006, and now numbers around 500,000. Taken together, the 2012 study estimates that there are 1.5 million breeding Dunlin in North America. The species is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.


  • Warnock, N. D., and R. E Gill. 1996. Dunlin (Calidris alpina). In The Birds of North America, No. 203 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Andres, B.A., P.A. Smith, R.I.G. Morrison, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, S.C. Brown, and C.A. Friis. 2012. Population estimates of North American Shorebirds, 2012. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119:178–194. Available from the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan website.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.

Range Map Help

Dunlin Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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