My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

The Dunlin is a small wading bird. It is a circumpolar breeder in Arctic or subarctic regions.

The Dunlin is highly gregarious in winter, sometimes forming large flocks on coastal mudflats or sandy beaches. Large numbers can often be seen swirling in synchronized flight on stop-overs during migration or on their winter habitat.
This bird is one of the most common and best-known waders throughout its breeding and wintering ranges, and it is the species with which other waders tend to be compared. At 17–21 cm length and a 32–36 cm wingspan, it is similar in size to a Common Starling, but stouter, with a thicker bill.

The Dunlin moves along the coastal mudflat beaches it prefers with a characteristic “sewing machine” feeding action, methodically picking small food items. Insects form the main part of the Dunlin’s diet on the nesting grounds; it eats mollusks, worms and crustaceans in coastal areas.

An adult Dunlin in breeding plumage shows the distinctive black belly which no other similar-sized wader possesses. The winter Dunlin is basically grey above and white below. Juveniles are brown above with two whitish “V” shapes on the back. They usually have black marks on the flanks or belly and show a strong white wing bar in flight.

The legs and slightly de-curved bill are black. There are a number of subspecies differing mainly in the extent of rufus coloration in the breeding plumage and the bill length. It should, however, be noted that bill length varies between sexes, the females having longer bills than the males.

The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground lined with vegetation, into which typically four eggs are laid and incubated by the male and female parents. Chicks are precocial, however are brooded during early development. They start to fly at approximately three weeks of age. The majority of brood care is provided by the male, as the female deserts the brood and often leaves the breeding area.

Their call is a typical sandpiper “peep”, and the display song a harsh trill.

On to my photos:

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

Dunlin, Calidris alpina

This is number 115 in my photo life list, only 235 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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13 responses

  1. Great shooting here.

    July 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    • Thanks. I couldn’t believe that the one in the water walked right up to me, so close that I had to start backing up to keep it in focus.

      July 24, 2013 at 1:31 am

      • Sounds like you’re getting the ‘magic’ touch. 😉

        July 24, 2013 at 1:36 am

      • Once in a while.

        July 24, 2013 at 1:48 am

  2. Nice shots! Where were the pics taken?

    July 23, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    • Thank you. I think all those shots were taken on Thunder Bay, an arm of Lake Huron near Alpena, Michigan. I did shoot a few at Muskegon, Michigan, but I don’t think I posted any of those shots.

      July 24, 2013 at 1:34 am

      • Thanks for the info! Having grown up in the Detroit area, but now living in central Ohio, I’m always looking for new ideas for places to explore in Michigan.

        July 24, 2013 at 8:14 am

  3. I like the water shots!

    July 24, 2013 at 6:13 am

    • Thanks, I got a little carried away since it was posing so nicely for me.

      July 24, 2013 at 9:16 am

  4. Excellent photos, what beautiful coloring! I love the sand shots!

    July 24, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    • Thanks, they’re cute little birds that seem to have little fear of man, at least no fear of a man with a camera. 😉

      July 25, 2013 at 2:39 am

  5. I just find these birds so charming! Those water shots are super!

    July 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    • Thanks, it helps to have a willing “model”.

      July 26, 2013 at 2:28 am