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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jarmo Jutila, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Dipper

Cinclus cinclus

  • Name also: White-throated Dipper, European Dipper
  • Family: Dippers – Cinclidae
  • Appearance: Dippers are squat Starling-sized dark brown and white birds with short tails and sturdy legs, found by swiftly running water. They have a distinctive white patch extending from the chin to chest. Other parts of their plumage are dark brown and may appear almost black.
  • Size: Length 17–20 cm, Weight 55–73 g.
  • Nest: By running water in a cleft in rock, beneath a bridge, or in a nest box. Large and almost enclosed with an entrance on one side. Made of aquatic moss, lined with dry leaves and grass.
  • Breeding: 3–6 eggs laid May–June, incubated by female for 14–18 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 18–25 days, and learn to fly and swim soon after leaving the nest.
  • Distribution: Finnish breeding population estimated at 250–350 pairs. Breeds by clear-water rapids in Northern Finland, only rarely nesting in Central and Southern Finland. As many as 5,000–10,000 Dippers winter in Finland, however, including birds that breed in Northern Norway (the Dipper is Norway’s national bird), Sweden or NW Russia.
  • Migration: Migrates by night. Wintering birds appear in Southern Finland October–November, and return to their breeding areas March–April. The birds encountered in Central and Southern Finland during the winter probably breed in Norway or Sweden.
  • Diet: Invertebrates, which it finds by diving into swiftly flowing water. May also eat small fish.
  • Calls: A chirpy “sritt”, similar to call of Yellowhammer. Song clear, chirpy and melodic.
  • Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected. Globally Least concern.

Dippers are squat Starling-sized dark brown and white birds with short tails and sturdy legs, found by swiftly running water. Their heads, napes and bellies are dark brown, often appearing black, but they have a distinctive white patch extending from the chin to chest. Their backs and short tails are matt black. Juvenile Dippers have slate grey backs and creamy white underparts, with the darker tips to their feathers giving them a mottled appearance. Dippers have brown irises and darker brown legs and beaks.

Dippers are the only members of the extensive order of birds known as the Passerines able to dive. Their plumage remains watertight thanks to oils secreted from a gland beneath their tails, which they spread over their feathers when preening.

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