One of the few bird species capable of walking underwater

Commonly known as dippers, this genus comprises a unique group of birds renowned for their exceptional ability to thrive in aquatic environments. Found across Europe, Asia, and the Americas, these fascinating birds have evolved remarkable adaptations to live and hunt in fast-flowing streams and rivers.

Cinclus birds are medium-sized, plump birds with a distinctive, almost wren-like appearance. They are characterized by their dark, waterproof plumage, short tails, and strong legs. One of their most notable features is their ability to walk underwater, a skill few other birds possess. They have strong, muscular legs and sharp claws that allow them to grip onto rocks and pebbles as they forage beneath the water’s surface.

Their dense, waterproof feathers provide excellent insulation, enabling them to maintain their body temperature even in icy waters. Additionally, they have a unique nasal flap that prevents water from entering their nostrils while submerged. Their eyes are adapted to see underwater, and they can close their ears with special flaps to keep out water.

Dippers are known for their unique nesting habits. They build dome-shaped nests close to water, often behind waterfalls or riverbanks. These nests are constructed from moss, grass, and leaves, providing excellent camouflage and predator protection. Both parents are involved in raising the young, with the female primarily responsible for incubation and the male providing food.

Most Cinclus species are not currently considered threatened thanks to their wide distribution and adaptability. However, they are susceptible to water pollution and habitat destruction. Clean, unpolluted waterways are essential for their survival, making them excellent indicators of ecosystem health. Conservation efforts focused on preserving and restoring freshwater habitats are crucial for the continued well-being of dipper populations.