This bird is a small, round shouldered shorebird with a slim, longish, slightly downcurved bill. In summer it has rich chestnut and black on crown and back; pale, dark-streaked breast; black belly. In winter, gray-brown above; gray-streaked breast; white belly. Narrow white wingbar and white underwing in all feathers.
This bird breeds in the spring. The nest is made by a shallow cup of grasses or leaves concealed in a tuft of grass. The female lays 3-4 pale green eggs, spotted with dark brown. The eggs are incubated for 21-22 days by both male and female.
The Dunlin is a very abundant shorebird throughtout the Northern Hemisphere. In the winter, it often gathers on the coasts of North America, Europe, and Asia in vast flocks of tens of thousands. The birds will return to the same wintering ground each year after they breed in the spring. The different winter groups do not mix, and there are several races. American and East Siberian birds are much bigger than those who winter in Europe. The Dunlins are energetic feeders and they run back and forth, sticking their bill into the tidal mud with a rapid repeat action.
When breeding time comes, the Dunlins migrate north to breed on the tundra. They nest in loose colonies, and each male performs a switchback display flight over the nesting site to claim his territory.