Dunlin Life History


Habitat ShorelinesBreeds in wet coastal tundra. Winters along mudflats, estuaries, marshes, flooded fields, sandy beaches, and shores of lakes and ponds.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching:Active and covered with down.
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Behavior ProbingBack to top


Conservation Low ConcernDunlin 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. Back to top


Andres, B. A., P. A. Smith, R. I. G. Morrison, C. L. Gratto-Trevor, S. C. Brown and C. A. Friis. 2012a. Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2012. Wader Study Group Bulletin no. 119 (3):178-194.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Warnock, Nils D. and Robert E. Gill. 1996. Dunlin (Calidris alpina), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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