Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Cinclus mexicanus
American Dipper


Distinguishing Features - Stocky, sparrow-sized, wren-shaped bird, about 19 cm long; overall colouration, slate-grey; tail, stubby; eyelids and feet, white. Both sexes similar.


American Dipper Occurs in North America; permanent resident throughout most of Alaska, south to the Yukon, British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, southward throughout western United States; along small, clear streams.


Almost exclusively underwater on larval forms of aquatic insects; to a much lesser extent, small fish and fish eggs.


Dippers are adapted to dive underwater. They have nasal flaps to prevent water from entering the nostrils, large preen glands from which they obtain oil for waterproofing their feathers, muscular modifications to help them swim with their wings, and probably the ability to see as well underwater as above.

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