Definition of dunlin in US English:


nounPlural dunlins

  • A migratory sandpiper with a down-curved bill and (in the breeding season) a reddish-brown back and black belly. It is the most common small wader of the northern hemisphere.

    Calidris alpina, family Scolopacidae

    • ‘We released all dunlins by mid-March each year, before spring migration.’
    • ‘Suddenly hundreds of lapwing, redshank and dunlin all took wing, rapidly climbing high above the flooded flats.’
    • ‘The large numbers of birds in the area, including nationally important numbers of golden plover, curlew, dunlin, merlin and twite, make it a Site of Special Scientific Interest.’
    • ‘You can see red knots, dunlins, and sandpipers as they rest and forage for food on the beaches, using the untouched island habitat as a safe haven during their journey south.’
    • ‘In the long-term the scheme will provide ‘compensation’ for other areas where development means natural habitats are lost and they are hoping to attract species such as redshank, dunlin, curlew, golden plover and shelduck.’


Mid 16th century: probably from dun + -ling, from the grayish-brown winter coloring of its upper parts.