Home PageBirds of Devon and Cornwall Dipper  

Latin Name - Cinclus cinclus

Dippers are invariably associated with water, usually fast-flowing streams and rivers in upland areas. They feed on a wide range of aquatic invertebrates and fish which they catch by both diving and swimming under water and also, remarkably, by walking along the bottom of fast running rivers searching for prey between and beneath stones and debris. To do so they have sharp claws to enable them to hold onto rocks in swift water. To swim underwater their wings are relatively short but strongly muscled enabling their use as flippers underwater. It is a short-tailed, plump bird that appears to be black with a white throat and breast. Actually both sexes have dark grey-brown wings, back and tail with a reddish-brown head. The common name Dippers was given for the bobbing and dipping movements they make whilst perched on riverside rocks. Dipper nests are usually large, round, domed structures made of moss, with an internal cup of grass and rootlets with a wide entrance usually pointing down towards water. Nest sites are traditional, and are used by successive generations of birds. One site is said to have been used continuously for 123 years. The nest may be built in any suitable site within the territory, but it is traditionally located in a natural crevice in a stream-side cave or waterfall, although the birds readily take to cracks in man-made alternatives such as bridges, walls, weirs and culverts.

Dipper