Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus
Family: Dippers, Cinclidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 8% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.
Description 7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm). A uniformly slate-gray, wren-shaped bird with stubby tail; yellowish feet. Always found near rushing water.
Habitat Near clear, fast mountain streams with rapids.
Nesting 3-6 white eggs in a relatively large, insulated nest of moss, with a side entrance. Nest is built under roots, in a rock crevice, or on the bank of a stream.
Voice A loud, bubbling song that carries over the noise of rapids. Call is a sharp zeet.
Range Resident from northern Alaska south throughout mountains of West. May move to lowlands in winter.
Discussion The "Water Ouzel" feeds on insect life of streams. Where water is shallow and runs over gravel, the dipper appears to water ski on the surface. At deeper points it dives into the water and runs along the bottom with half-open wings.