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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