Dunlin in nonbreeding plumageDunlin in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

This is a Dunlin (Calidris alpina) in nonbreeding plumage, the image was taken at Fort De Soto’s north beach in Florida during the month of December a few years ago. During the winter Dunlins have dull gray-brown backs and heads with light-colored streaked breasts. These hardy shorebirds winter along coastlines from southern Alaska south to Florida and Mexico.

Dunlin in breeding plumageDunlin in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 160, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

This image shows a Dunlin in breeding plumage also taken at Fort De Soto’s north beach in May a few years ago about the time this shorebird would start its migration to Arctic and sub-Arctic areas of Alaska where it breeds on the tundra near ponds.

Dunlins exhibit a vast difference between nonbreeding and breeding plumage, so different that a novice birder might mistakenly believe that they were two different species. It is always handy to have images of Dunlins in breeding and nonbreeding plumage for comparison.

This small shorebird’s lifespan can be up to 24 years!