Vast differences are obvious in winter and breeding plumages,
as the Dunlin sports a ruddy brown back, white underparts, and black belly patch
in the spring, but has a very nondescript grayish plumage in the winter.
Dunlins generally tolerate colder weather better than many other shorebirds,
migrating southward relatively late in the fall and often overwintering as far
north as New England or the coast of Alaska.
fields, lake margins, mudflats during migration. Breeds on mixed tundra/wetland
in Canada and Alaska. Found in coastal habitats in the winter and in
Diet: Primarily insects
and insect larvae on migration through the state. Also small mollusks and
crustaceans, small fish, and some plant material.
Behavior: Forages by walking along mudflats or
very shallow water, plucking food items from the surface or by rapid probing
in the mud.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota. In
breeding range, the nest of a Dunlin is a scrape on the ground lined with
grasses and leaves, usually placed in a hidden area such as next to a clump of
grass or small hummock. The female lays between 2 and 4 eggs, and both
parents help to incubate them. When the eggs hatch, the young quickly
leave the nest and find their own food, with the parents helping to protect
them. The female however usually leaves after a few days, leaving the male
to tend to the young. The young fledge after about 3 weeks.
Song: Raspy zheeep.
Migration: Summers in northern Canada and Alaska. Winters along North American
Conservation Status: Numbers have seemingly
declined since the 1970's. However, they are still found over a wide
geographic area and overall numbers are not threatened.
The IUCN lists the
Dunlin as a species of "Least Concern".
Photo Information: May 20th, 2005 -- Wetland near Wentworth -- Terry L. Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Dunlin photos.