White-throated dipper

Can walk along the riverbed using its wings to stabilize itself against the current

Mark Medcalf

A unique and captivating bird that inhabits the fast-flowing rivers and streams of Europe and parts of Asia. The White-throated dipper is primarily found in freshwater environments such as rivers, streams, and brooks with clear, fast-flowing water. It prefers areas with rocky substrates and abundant aquatic insects. This bird is widespread across Europe, from the British Isles to Scandinavia, and extends into parts of Asia, including the Caucasus and the Himalayas. Its preference for pristine waterways makes it an excellent indicator of water quality and ecosystem health.

One of its most striking features is its white throat and chest, which contrast sharply with its dark brown or blackish body. This characteristic white patch makes the bird easily recognizable, even from a distance. The dipper also has a robust, slightly downcurved bill, adapted for foraging in its aquatic habitat.

The White-throated Dipper is renowned for its unique behavior of “dipping,” where it repeatedly bends its legs and bobs up and down while perched on rocks or branches near the water. This behavior is believed to help the bird spot prey underwater. Additionally, the dipper is an exceptional swimmer and diver, often seen plunging into fast-flowing streams to forage for food. It primarily feeds on aquatic invertebrates, including insects, larvae, and small crustaceans. It forages by diving into the water and hunting along the streambed. The dipper’s diet can also include small fish and amphibians, particularly during the breeding season when the demand for food increases.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2018
Albania
2018
Breeding
Algeria
2018
Andorra
2018
Armenia
2018
Breeding
Austria
2018
Azerbaijan
2018
Belarus
2018
Non-Breeding
Belgium
2018
Bhutan
2018
Breeding
Bosnia And Herz.
2018
Breeding
Bulgaria
2018
China
2018
Breeding
Croatia
2018
Cyprus
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally in 1945
Czechia
2018
Denmark
2018
Estonia
2018
Faroe Islands
2018
Non-Breeding
Finland
2018
France
2018
Georgia
2018
Breeding
Germany
2018
Breeding
Greece
2018
Hungary
2018
India
2018
Breeding
Iran
2018
Iraq
2018
Ireland
2018
Italy
2018
Kazakhstan
2018
Breeding
Kyrgyzstan
2018
Breeding
Latvia
2018
Lebanon
2018
Liechtenstein
2018
Lithuania
2018
Non-Breeding
Luxembourg
2018
Malta
2018
Non-Breeding
Mongolia
2018
Breeding
Montenegro
2018
Breeding
Morocco
2018
Myanmar
2018
Breeding
Nepal
2018
Breeding
Netherlands
2018
Non-Breeding
North Macedonia
2018
Norway
2018
Breeding
Pakistan
2018
Breeding
Poland
2018
Portugal
2018
Romania
2018
Russia
2018
Central Asian Russia
Serbia
2018
Breeding
Slovakia
2018
Slovenia
2018
Spain
2018
Sweden
2018
Switzerland
2018
Tajikistan
2018
Breeding
Tunisia
2018
Non-Breeding
Turkmenistan
2018
Breeding
Turkey
2018
Ukraine
2018
United Kingdom
2018
Uzbekistan
2018
Breeding

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No