• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

American Dipper


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A chunky bird of western streams, the American Dipper is North America's only truly aquatic songbird. It catches all of its food underwater in swiftly flowing streams by swimming and walking on the stream bottom.


Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Stocky, medium-sized bird.
  • Gray all over.
  • Large head; short neck.
  • Long legs.
  • Short tail.
  • Thin, dark bill.
  • White eyelids obvious when it blinks.
  • Constantly bobs body up and down.

Immature Description

Similar to adult, but with faint pale barring on underside.

Range Map Help

American Dipper Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp


    American Dipper

    • Plump, dark-gray songbird found on rocks and and logs in fast-moving streams
    • Compact and stocky with short bill and tail
    • Foraging behavior distinctive with frequent plunges below the surface of the water
    • © Nick Saunders, Saskatchewan, Canada, November 2009

    American Dipper

    • Plump and stocky songbird
    • Short bill and tail
    • Found near rushing water
    • Dull, dark gray overall
    • © Lois Manowitz, Telluride, Colorado, September 2013

    American Dipper

    • Short tail and bill
    • Unique stocky songbird almost always found near fast-moving streams/rivers
    • Distinctive feeding behavior as it "dips" and plunges beneath the water's surface
    • Dark gray overall
    • © Teri Franzen, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, October 2014


Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.