Breeding in Arctic regions, it is a long-distance migrant, with a nearly worldwide coastal distribution when not breeding. In spring and summer (late April or May to August), the adults are spotted black and white on the back and wings. The face and neck are black with a white border; they have a black breast and belly and a white rump. The tail is white with black barring. The bill and legs are black. They moult to winter plumage in mid August to early September and retain this until April; this being a fairly plain grey above, with a grey-speckled breast and white belly. Their breeding habitat is Arctic islands and coastal areas across the northern coasts of Alaska, Canada, and Russia. To Labuan Island this aves can be seen in medium flock during the low tide at Nagalang Shore with their non-breeding plumages.