Ian’s Bird of the Week – White-throated Dipper

Ian’s Bird of the Week – White-throated Dipper  ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 8-5-12

Here’s another species from Bushy Park in Dublin, the White-throated Dipper, this time on the River Dodder. This featured as bird of the week 5 years ago, so please forgive the repetition but I have some nice photos to share. Dippers – there are 6 species world-wide – are rather special in that they are the only truly aquatic Passerines (song birds), living exclusively on and in fast flowing streams and rivers and getting all their food from the water. They are dumpy, short-tailed, starling-sized birds and, as they often cock their tails, look a bit like giant (Winter) Wrens.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 1

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 1

They also build domed nests but the resemblance to wrens ends there, though, and they are unrelated belonging to their own family, the Cinclidae. They feed on aquatic larvae, such as Caddis Fly larvae, and other invertebrates such as freshwater crustaceans and molluscs.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 2

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 2

Not only do they wade and swim with ease, they will also walk along the bottom of the stream gripping onto stones with their strong feet and even dive, using their wings to propel themselves under water.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 3

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 3

The bird in the third photo is almost completely submerged, and if you look carefully at the fourth photo, the brown shape in the centre is a completely submerged one with only a little eddy to show where it went under the surface.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 4

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 4

They use their slightly upturned bill to probe for food under rocks and stones. The one in the fifth photo has just surfaced with a tasty grub.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 5

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 5

This same bird only moments before had appeared with a Caddis Fly larva in its characteristic tube, made out of spun silk and often camouflaged with attached sand, sixth photo. The presence of Caddis Fly larvae is supposed to indicated a healthy river system, though the depressing amount of water-borne litter in the River Dodder makes it look otherwise.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 6

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 6

We saw Dippers on most occasions when we took the dogs for a walk. It’s popular jogging and dog-walking spot and the Dippers are used to disturbance and are remarkably approachable, being usually rather shy. They nest here too, and the slight bemused looking individual in the seventh photo is a recently-fledged juvenile, distinguishable by the scaly pattern on the chest, the overall grey colour and the pale legs.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 7

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 7

I’ve seen Brown Dippers in the Himalayas in Sikkim, White-capped Dippers in the Andes in Ecuador and American Dippers in the Cascade Mountains of Northeastern California. The White-throated Dipper is a bird of mainly and often icy, highland streams in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Seeing them so easily in suburban Dublin, between Terenure and Rathfarnham 6 km from the city centre (take the 15B bus) is truly wonderful.

Best wishes
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
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Lee’s Addition:

Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD, (Psalms 98:8 NKJV)

What an amazing little bird. Its ability to swim and walk underwater is very interesting. Thanks again, Ian, for sharing another of your adventures.

As Ian mentioned they are in the Cinclidae family. There are five species in that family. After checking out his photos, check the Birds of the World page here.

Ian’s Cinclidae Family page.

Cinclidae – Dipper Family

Dippers – Wikipedia

Dippers – IBC


Formed By Him – Dippers

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian

Dippers are small, stout, short-tailed, short-winged, strong-legged birds. The different species are generally dark brown (sometimes nearly black), or brown and white in colour, apart from the Rufous-throated Dipper which is brown with a reddish-brown throat patch. Sizes range from 14–22 cm in length and 40-90 g in weight, with males larger than females. Their short wings give them a distinctive whirring flight. They have a characteristic bobbing motion when perched beside the water, giving them their name.

White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus leuconotus) ©BirdPhotos.com

White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus leuconotus) ©BirdPhotos.com

Dippers are found in suitable freshwater habitats in the highlands of the Americas, Europe and Asia. In Africa they are only found in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. They inhabit the banks of fast-moving upland rivers with cold, clear waters, though, outside the breeding season, they may visit lake shores and sea coasts.

The Lord created them unlike many water birds, dippers are generally similar in form to many terrestrial birds (for example they do not have webbed feet), but they were designed with some morphological and physiological adaptations to their aquatic habits. Their wings are relatively short but strongly muscled, enabling them to be used as flippers underwater. They have dense plumage with a large preen gland for waterproofing their feathers. Relatively long legs and sharp claws enable them to hold onto rocks in swift water. Their eyes have well-developed focus muscles that can change the curvature of the lens to enhance underwater vision. They have nasal flaps to prevent water entering their nostrils. Their blood has a high haemoglobin concentration, allowing a greater capacity to store oxygen than terrestrial birds, and allowing them to remain underwater for up to at least 30 seconds.

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. (Psalms 148:5 KJV)

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) by Ian

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) by Ian

Dippers forage for small animal prey in and along the margins of fast-flowing freshwater streams and rivers. They perch on rocks and feed at the edge of the water, but they often also grip the rocks firmly and walk down them beneath the water until partly or wholly submerged. They then search underwater for prey between and beneath stones and debris; they can also swim with their wings. The two South American species swim and dive less often than the three northern ones. Their prey consists primarily of invertebrates such as the nymphs or larvae of mayflies, blackflies, stoneflies and caddisflies, as well as small fish and fish eggs. Molluscs and crustaceans are also consumed, especially in winter when insect larvae are less available.

White-throated Dipper

Recording Sound of White-throated Dipper by BBC

Video by National Geographic


There are five members of the Dipper – Cinclidae Family in the Passeriformes Order. They all are of the Cinclus genus. The Dippers are:

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) – Widespread, also nw Africa
Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii) – Europe
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) – w Canada to Panama
White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus) – Colombia to Bolivia
Rufous-throated Dipper (Cinclus schulzii) – nw Argentina, se Bolivia

What an amazing Creator we have!

Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii) ©WikiC

Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii) ©WikiC

Several things have been dipped in blood in Scripture:

And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; (Genesis 37:31 KJV)

Hyssop was dipped in blood in Exodus 12:22 and put on doorposts; Lev. 4:6,16 and  9:9, 14:16 dipped finger in blood and sprinkled it while at the altar; dipped a bird in blood in Lev. 14:6 (See Birds of the Bible – Purifying Bird); then when Christ is seen in heaven, His vesture is dipped in blood.

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. (Revelation 19:13 KJV)

The one time someone dipped himself in a river, was when Naaman, who had leprosy, finally believed enough to go dip seven times in the Jordan and was healed.

Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:14 KJV)

Gospel Message

See Also:

Formed By Him

The American Dipper – The Intercessor by a j mithra

Birds of the World

(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)


The American Dipper – The Intercessor

The American Dipper – The Intercessor ~ by a j mithra

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) by Daves BirdingPix

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) by Daves BirdingPix

A chunky bird of western streams, the American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. It catches all of its food underwater in swiftly flowing streams by swimming and walking on the stream bottom. Dipping may help them deal with a crazy visual field that is constantly in motion…

Maybe the relentless up and down motion changes the light angle, allowing dippers to see into the water. Or it may help them remain oriented next to the forever moving current. Or it may be a way of communicating near noisy streams–except that dippers sometimes dip even when they’re alone….

Unless we are in communion with GOD, the Light, through prayers, we will never be able to deal with the visual field that is constantly in motion. We will never be able to see the Light at the end of the tunnel…

Do we have a personal relationship with GOD?

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Mathew 6:6)

Formerly known as the water ouzel, this bird was rechristened by ornithologists several years ago because of its curious habit of dipping, bending and straightening its knees. So who knows?

Maybe their habit of dipping just helps these little birds keep fit for those incredible dives into raging torrents…

They’re absolutely amazing….We can’t even stand up in these streams, but here are these tiny birds that dive right into raging white water.”

Those who kneel before GOD, can stand before anything…

Prayer helps us stay fit and is the secret behind coming out unscathed, even after diving into the raging water…

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Mathew 21:22)

Young birds may practice dipping while still in the nest, and adults do it repeatedly when resting between feeding dives, while courting, during territorial disputes and when alarmed…

The dipping rate tends to rise with the degree of arousal to as many as 60 dips per minute.

Do we teach our children about the importance of prayer when they are young?

How many times do we dip, I mean, kneel before GOD during alarming situations?

…that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. (Deuteronomy 4:10)
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) by Ian

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) by Ian

The American Dipper chooses a nest site, invariably along a stream, that provides security from floods and predators. Availability of suitable nest sites appears to limit its populations. To be able to survive in cold waters during the winter, the American Dipper has a low metabolic rate, extra oxygen-carrying capacity in its blood, and a thick coat of feathers.

Unlike most other songbirds, but similarly to ducks, the American Dipper molts its wing and tail feathers all at once in the late summer. The bird is flightless during this time.

American dippers occupy an unusual niche in the songbird world. Inextricably tied to racing streams, they routinely feed where few other terrestrial animals dare to go. They rear young just feet from churning whirlpools. They are splendidly adapted for their aquatic life-style, yet even in the wilderness have trouble finding appropriate nest sites. Abundant oil from an oversized gland above the tail keeps dipper feathers virtually waterproof. A flap of skin covers the nostrils while submerged, and translucent eyelids permit underwater sight. Dippers rarely venture more than a few yards from water, and even when airborne they follow a stream’s zigzagging course….

Our lives would be safe when we dare not venture away from the Living Water and just follow the course of JESUS, the Living Water…

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27)

Dippers build their traditionally elaborate nests over the fastest moving part of a stream normally on mid-stream boulders or rock ledges just above the water….

Researchers discovered that area bridges offered a viable alternative as nesting sites. And in subsequent research, the biologist found that bridge nests in the valley actually produced more young than the natural nests in her study area…

Bridges actually are a key to dipper’s reproductive success in many areas….

We are the key to the extension of GOD’s kingdom… Do you know that?

GOD has called us to bridge the gap between the lost and the LAMB…

The success of populating the flock of GOD depends on our availability…

GOD is searching for someone who would stand in the gap for HIS people, are you ready to bridge the gap?

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. ( Ezekiel 22:30)

Have a blessed day!

Your’s in YESHUA,
a j mithra

Please visit us at: Crosstree

Lee’s Addition:

Dippers are in the Cinclidae Family of the Passeriformes Order. There are 5 Dippers in the family; White-throated, Brown, American, White-capped, Rufous-throated Dipper.

Video of an American Dipper