This Holarctic breeder usually passes rather quickly through Ontario in May but lingers on its southward journey to its wintering areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of America.
It is often the last of the shorebirds to be seen on the mudflats of the lower Great lakes in fall.
The old names “Red-backed Sandpiper” and “Blackheart Sandpiper” were descriptive of the reddish brown upperparts and black patch on the white underparts of northbound migrants in spring but the present name “Dunlin” is more appropriate for the dun-coloured southbound birds.
These are small sandpipers (though larger than the tiny “peeps”) but have rather long bills, downturned near the tips, with which they probe the mudflats like small dowitchers.
Dr. J. Murray Speirs