American DipperCinclus mexicanus

adult
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
juvenile
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult
Kevin Smith/VIREO
adults
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
American Dipper

Family

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.

Voice

A loud, bubbling song that carries over the noise of rapids. Call is a sharp zeet.

Listen

song #1
song #2

Habitat

Near clear, fast mountain streams with rapids.

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.

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.

Similar Species

adult

Gray Catbird

8-9 1/4" (20-23 cm). Smaller than a robin. A slender, long-tailed, dark gray bird with black cap and rusty undertail coverts.

adult, breeding

European Starling

7 1/2-8 1/2" (19-22 cm). Smaller than a robin. A short-tailed, chunky, iridescent black bird; long pointed bill, yellow in summer and dark in fall and early winter.

adult male, Oregon junco

Dark-eyed Junco

5-6 1/4" (13-16 cm). This species shows much geographic variation in color. Typically, male of western population ("Oregon Junco") has black hood, chestnut mantle, white underparts with buff sides.

adult

Black Phoebe

6-7" (15-18 cm). Slate-black except for white belly, undertail coverts, and outer tail feathers. Its tail-wagging, erect posture, and insectivorous feeding habits are helpful in field identification.

adult, Pacific

Gray Jay

10-13" (25-33 cm). Gray above, whitish below. Forehead and throat white; nape and stripe through eye dull black. Immatures sooty-gray.

Vireo

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