The male dunlin arrives at the breeding grounds first, and pairs are established upon the females’ arrival (4). The males attract a partner by performing display flights, which consist of short glides with stiff arched wings, interrupted by rapid, shallow flutters (2). The male makes a few scrapes on the ground, which are then lined with grass, sedges and leaves. The female chooses one of the scrapes as the nest and finishes its construction (4). The nest is often concealed in vegetation and sometimes in a tuft or tussock (5). Usually 4 eggs are laid, which are then incubated for 20 to 22 days. The young leave the nest shortly after hatching, but are tended by the adults until they are ready to fledge, usually at about 19 days (4).
Outside of the breeding season, the dunlin is highly gregarious, travelling in groups of up to 1,500 while migrating and residing in groups numbering hundreds of thousands at the wintering grounds. This species is active both during the day and at night (5). It feeds by probing and jabbing with its long bill in the substrate (2). At the breeding grounds, insects and insect larvae are the most important source of food, but elsewhere its diet is more varied, feeding on worms and small snails, as well as insects, crustaceans, bivalves, plant matter and occasionally small fish (4).