American Dipper

Cinclus mexicanus




Dipper (Cinclidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

3 - 6

Incubation Days:

13 - 17

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

0 - 8 feet above the stream., On a rock ledge.

Nest Material:






American Dipper: Small, wren-like bird, dark gray chunky body with gray-brown head and neck, short, cocked tail and white eyelids that flash when blinked. Bill is straight and black, legs are dark. Sexes are similar, but female is slightly smaller. Juvenile is paler with white-tipped feathers giving a slightly barred or scalloped appearance, bill is yellow. Wades, swims and dives for food. Feeds on aquatic insects, larvae, clams, snails, crustaceans, and small fish. Strong direct flight on rapid wing beats.

Range and Habitat

American Dipper: Found from central Alaska and Yukon south, throughout the Rocky Mountains, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada, and as far south as Mexico and Panama. Inhabits swift flowing mountain streams; less frequently found along mountain ponds and lakes. Occasionally appears on rocky coasts during winter.

Breeding and Nesting

American Dipper: Three to six white eggs are laid in a globe-shaped nest made of mosses with a side entrance. Nest is built close to water, on a rock ledge, riverbank, behind a waterfall, or under a bridge. Incubation ranges from 13 to 17 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

American Dipper: Feeds on insects, small fish, and fish eggs. Plunges into streams headfirst, propelling itself through the water (with or against the current) with wings. Often walks or runs along the streambed while submersed; also forages while wading.


American Dipper: Song consists of high whistles or trills repeated a few times. Call is a loud, shrill "zzeip, zzreip, rreip."

Similar Species

American Dipper: River habitat and diving behavior separates this species from similar species.

Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X