Dunlin

Calidris alpina

One of the Pribilofs more regular non-breeding shorebirds the Dunlin is uncommon in spring and regular in fall. On a typical year between 1 and 4 are found during the last weeks of May and first week of June. Singles and occasionally small groups pass my in August and during our fall surveys this species has been shown to pass through as late as early October. The identification of adult Dunlin in spring is fairly straightforward. Look for the large, square, black belly patch (our Rock Sandpipers have a splotchy black patch that is largely confined to the breast), and the thin drooping bill. Fall juveniles can cause some confusion, as that plumage stage is not illustrated well in any field guide. Juvenile Dunlin begin moulting into winter plumage quickly, and by the time the reach the populated birding areas of Canada and the U.S. they have lost most of their patterning. Look for a fairly bright bird, with rufous and white fringed upperparts, mantle lines, and heavily streaked breast and belly. Dunlin are typically found on any open sandy or muddy patch. Good places to look are Pumphouse Lake, Webster Lake, Lake Dune and the Salt Lagoon.