Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Larry Master
Photo Copyright Larry Master

The dunlin, Calidris alpina, is a rare transient in Utah. Flocks are occasionally seen in the state in wetlands during migration between breeding grounds on Arctic coasts and wintering grounds along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America and northern South America.

Nesting areas are generally in coastal tundra grasslands. Usually four eggs are laid during June in a cup-shaped hollow that is lined with grasses and leaves. Incubation duties are shared by both sexes in most cases, but sometimes the male alone may incubate the eggs. Eggs hatch after 21 or 22 days, and young leave the nest almost immediately. The young feed themselves, but are guarded by both parents until they are able to fly after about 25 days. In some cases, the male's role may become more important as the young grow, and the female may leave before the young are independent. This shorebird feeds on a variety of invertebrates, including bivalves, amphipods, annelids, and insect larvae.


  • Warnock, N. D., and R. E. Gill. 1996. Dunlin (Calidris alpina). Birds of North America 203: 24 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.