Calidris alpina | Dunlin | Breacóg



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

Continued severe downward population declines have been noted in this species (Gilbert, Stanbury and Lewis, 2021).

According to the last IUCN Red List assessment in 2016, the Dunlin is a species of ‘Least Concern’ on a global scale. However, a decreasing global population trend was noted. 

Species Biology


The Dunlin is a small species of wader with a dark, marginally down-curved bill, brown upperparts with dark patterning throughout, whitish underparts with dark patterning and a characteristic black belly patch.

The legs are black.

Plumage can vary between age and season so some hardship may be encountered when identifying in the field.

The Dunlin stands at 16-20 cm in length with a wingspan of 35-40 cm and a weight range of 40-50 grams.


The Dunlin feeds on invertebrates such as worms, molluscs and insects that it probes for with its long bill.


Breeding individuals in Ireland are best suited to sandy, grassy habitats such as machair.

Being a ground nesting species, the Dunlin prefers sparsely vegetated habitats with a low sward height.

Wintering individuals can be seen across virtually all coastal habitats with a preference for estuaries and tidal mudflats. 


This species lays a clutch of four eggs, each weighing approximately 10.2 grams, and incubates them for a period of 21-22 days.

The young will fledge after 19-21 days.

A typical wild Dunlin has a life expectancy of around five years with breeding occurring after two years.


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

During the summer, visitors arrive from north-western Africa and Europe.

Winter visitors from Scandinavia and Siberia are often stop in Ireland. Passage migrants have also been recorded.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.



Gilbert, G., Stanbury, A. and Lewis, L., 2021. Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 4: 2020-2026. [online] Wicklow. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].