Key facts

Scientific name: Cinclus cinclus
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 6,200 – 18,700 pairs

Conservation status: Green
Length: 17- 19 cm
Wingspan: 26 – 29 cm
Weight: 65 g


Dippers are short-tailed birds with a reddish-brown head, nape and upper back.

Its back is dark grey with a dark scaly pattern and it has a white chin, throat and breast and a dark belly. Dippers’ bills are black and their legs and feet are dark.

Juvenile dippers have greyer upperparts and pink legs and feet.


Dippers nest very close to water, using cavities in banks, holes in walls or trees. Both sexes build the nest which is large and domed and made from mosses, grasses, leaves and hair.

Dippers lay 4-6 white eggs in March or April which are incubated by the female for 14-16 days. Males may feed the female at the nest.

Chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at 20-24 days


Dippers feed on insects and larvae, small crustaceans and molluscs. They will sometimes also eat worms, tadpoles and small fishes.

Dippers are able to walk into and under water in search of food.


Where to see them

Dippers are found alongside fast-flowing rivers mainly in upland areas but also on lowland rivers in south west England.


Erik Eggenkam/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Dippers use their nest sites for generations; one such site was reportedly used for over 120 years.

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