Calidris alpina

What do they look like?

Dunlins are small wading birds which belong to the sandpiper family. They have a long beak and legs which are both dark in colour, with brown and sandy-red mottling across its back, an off-white and brown chest and a distinctive black patch on its belly during the summer months. In winter, however, dunlins have a grey back and white chest and belly, with an appearance similar to the sanderling. Dunlins can be distinguished by their smaller size and slightly down curved bill. They are sociable birds and can be seen probing the ground with their bills for insects and small molluscs.

When can I see them in Scotland?

All year.

Where can I see them in Scotland?

Dunlins can be seen all year round on much of the north coast of Scotland, and are also common in winter on more southern areas of coastline. They can often be spotted on estuaries and beaches. Dunlins may also be seen inland near breeding grounds such as bogs, moorland and coastal grassland, between April and July.

Conservation Status:

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to the Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Dunlins are currently an ‘Amber’ listed species.

40 cm
21-22 days
19-21 days
5 years
Average lifespan