Our Beautiful World

Dippers, Cinclidae

© Lasse Olsson, 2004

Dippers are members of the genus Cinclus in the bird family Cinclidae, named for their bobbing or dipping movements. They are unique
among passerines for their ability to dive and swim underwater.

Dippers are small, stout, short-tailed, short-winged, strong-legged birds. The different species are generally dark brown (sometimes nearly
black), or brown and white in colour, apart from the Rufous-throated Dipper which is brown with a reddish-brown throat patch.
Sizes range from 14–22 cm in length and 40-90 g in weight, with males larger than females. Their short wings give them a distinctive whirring flight. They have a characteristic bobbing motion when perched beside the water, giving them their name.

Dippers are found in suitable freshwater habitats in the highlands of the Americas, Europe and Asia. In Africa they are only found in the
Atlas Mountains of Morocco. They inhabit the banks of fast-moving upland rivers with cold, clear waters, though, outside the breeding
season, they may visit lake shores and sea coasts.

Unlike many water birds, dippers are generally similar in form to many terrestrial birds (for example they do not have webbed feet),
but they do have some morphological and physiological adaptations to their aquatic habits. Their wings are relatively short but strongly
muscled, enabling them to be used as flippers underwater. They have dense plumage with a large preen gland for waterproofing their
feathers. Relatively long legs and sharp claws enable them to hold onto rocks in swift water. Their eyes have well-developed focus
muscles that can change the curvature of the lens to enhance underwater vision.They have nasal flaps to prevent water entering their
nostrils. Their blood has a high haemoglobin concentration, allowing a greater capacity to store oxygen than terrestrial birds,
and allowing them to remain underwater for up to at least 30 seconds.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dipper

English Norsk Latin
White-throated Dipper Fossekall Cinclus cinclus
Brown Dipper Brunfossekall Cinclus pallasii
American Dipper Gråfossekall Cinclus mexicanus
White-capped Dipper Andesfossekall Cinclus leucocephalus
Rufous-throated Dipper Ruststrupefossekall Cinclus schulzi

White-throated Dipper, Cinclus cinclus

© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

Order: Passeriformes, Family: Cinclidae, Genus: Cinclus, Species: Cinclus cinclus

The White-throated Dipper, Cinclus cinclus, also known as the European Dipper or just Dipper is an aquatic passerine
bird found in Europe, Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The species is divided into several subspecies,
based primarily on colour differences, particularly of the pectoral band. The White-throated Dipper is Norway's national bird.

The White-throated Dipper is about 18 centimetres long, rotund and short tailed. The head of the adult (gularis and
aquaticus) is brown, the back slate-grey mottled with black, looking black from a distance, and the wings and tail are
brown. The throat and upper breast are white, followed by a band of warm chestnut which merges into black on the
belly and flanks. The bill is almost black, the legs and irides brown. Cinclus cinclus cinclus has a black belly band.

The young are greyish brown and have no chestnut band.

Habitat. Here from Troms in Northern Norway.
Photo: © www.vulkaner.no

The White-throated Dipper is closely associated with swiftly running rivers and streams or the lakes into which these fall.
It often perches bobbing spasmodically with its short tail uplifted on the rocks round which the water swirls and tumbles.
It acquired its name from these sudden dips, not from its diving habit, though it dives as well as walks into the water.

It flies rapidly and straight, its short wings whirring swiftly and without pauses or glides, calling a shrill zil, zil, zil.
It will then either drop on the water and dive or plunge in with a small splash.

From a perch it will walk into the water and deliberately submerge, but there is no truth in the assertion that it can defy the
laws of specific gravity and walk along the bottom. Undoubtedly when entering the water it grips with its strong feet, but the
method of progression beneath the surface is by swimming, using the wings effectively for flying under water. It holds itself
down by muscular exertion, with its head well down and its body oblique, its course beneath the surface often revealed by
a line of rising bubbles.

Looking out over the river.
Photo: © www.vulkaner.no

In this way it secures its food, usually aquatic invertebrates including caddis worms and other aquatic insect larvae, beetles,
Limnaea, Ancylus and other freshwater molluscs, and also small fish. A favourite food is the small crustacean Gammarus,
an amphipod shrimp. It also walks and runs on the banks and rocks seeking terrestrial invertebrates.

The winter habits of the Dipper vary considerably and apparently individually. When the swift hill streams are frozen it is
forced to descend to the lowlands and even visit the coasts, but some will remain if there is any open water.

Watching out for fish in the water. Not allways so easy to spot in the snow.
Photo: © www.vulkaner.no

The nest is by the water. It is large, globular or oval, like a large Wren's nest, built into a crack or hollow in the rock,
in the masonry, or on the supports of a bridge, or, more rarely, in an overhanging branch.

It is composed of moss, dead grass and leaves. This ball, however, is just a shelter. Usually hidden beneath a lip, is the
entrance to the real nest within, a cup of grass or sedge, nearly as large as the nest of a Blackbird, lined with leaves of oak,
beech or other trees. Three to six white eggs are laid starting between March and May. One or two broods are reared,
usually in the same nest. When disturbed the young, when hardly feathered, will at once drop into the water and dive.

Its much easier to take pictures of swans and geese.
Photo: © www.vulkaner.no


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