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American Dipper

ID Info
Silhouette DippersDippers
American DipperCinclus mexicanus
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Cinclidae

Basic Description

A bird that walks underneath the water, the slate-gray American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. It flits among midstream rocks and logs, rhythmically bobbing its tail, and then disappears for long moments to forage for aquatic larvae on the stream bottom, using its wings to negotiate the current. These birds build mossy, domed nests on boulders, cliff ledges, and bridges. The burbling song is evocative of the rushing whitewater streams this species calls home in western North and Central America.

More ID Info
image of range map for American Dipper
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Look for American Dippers on boulders or fallen logs along whitewater streams in western North America. Their characteristic dipping motion helps make them noticeable despite their subdued plumage. You may see dippers flying low to the water upstream or downstream, but rarely any distance away from the river course. Watch out for nests clinging to midstream boulders or under bridges, or for white-splattered rocks in midstream, for evidence dippers are in the area. Their long, burbling song is reminiscent of a Pacific or Winter Wren.

Other Names

  • Mirlo Acuático Norteamericano (Spanish)
  • Cincle d'Amérique (French)
  • Cool Facts