American Dipper

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cinclus mexicanus

American Dipper

The American Dipper, also known as the Water Ouzel is a chunky bird of western streams and it is the only truly aquatic songbird of North America.

Both sexes measure about 4.5 - 7.9 inches in length and weigh about 43 - 67 grams.

Adults have slate-gray body. They are stocky birds with short tail and wings. Their large head is browner. Eyes are dark brown with white transparent eyelids. Pointed, slender bill is blackish, paler at the base. Long legs and feet are pale pinkish-brown.

Both sexes are similar, with males larger than females.

Juveniles are paler than adults. Streaked underparts are whitish on chin and throat, increasing in color on breast, and becoming browner on belly and vent. Bill is pale and legs are pinkish.

CALL: A sharp “zeet”.   

SONG: Utters a loud, musical song, with repeated notes, high pitched whistles and trills.

Feeds on insects, aquatic invertebrates, small fishes and fish-eggs. It also feeds on small larval amphibians.

Lives and breeds along small turbulent mountain streams within wooded area, where it gets food. It needs clear and unpolluted fast moving waters to find its preys.

Lives and breeds in North America, from Alaska, through Mountain West, and southwards to Panama.

During winter, they only perform local movements and dispersions, to find unfrozen waters at lower elevation. They concentrate in great numbers, using narrow creeks and slow-moving waters.

Their nest is a globe-shaped structure with a side entrance facing the water. It is located on a rock ledge, on river bank, often hidden behind a waterfall or under a bridge. It is covered with mosses and built with grasses and leaves. The female lines it with grass, or pine needles, leaves and bark strips. The male often helps her to build the nest.

The female lays 2 - 4 white eggs. Incubation lasts about 15 - 17 days, by female alone, but fed by the male during this period.


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