a common sandpiper, Calidris alpina, that breeds in the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

1525–35; variant of dunling. See dun2, -ling1

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dunlin (ˈdʌnlɪn)
Also called: red-backed sandpiper a small sandpiper, Calidris (or Erolia) alpina, of northern and arctic regions, having a brown back and black breast in summer
[C16: dun² + -ling1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica


one of the most common and sociable birds of the sandpiper (q.v.) group. The dunlin is a member of the family Scolopacidae (order Charadriiformes). It is about 20 cm (8 inches) long and has a bill curved downward at the tip. In breeding plumage, the bird has a black belly and a reddish back (dun-coloured, hence the name). In the winter the plumage is gray above and white below. It breeds around the North Pole and also in the British Isles and the Baltic region and winters in great numbers on seacoasts, mainly north of the equator

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Thousands of shorebirds, primarily dunlin, stay for the winter.
Dunlin, dowitchers, and other shorebirds can be found feeding in the marsh at low tide.
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