Eurasian dipper

Cinclus cinclus

TAXONOMY

Sturnus cinclus Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: English dipper, white-throated dipper, white-breasted dipper, water ousel; French: Cincle plongeur; German: Wasseramsel; Spanish: Mirlo Acuático.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.7-7.9 in (17-20 cm); weight, male 1.9-2.7 oz (53-76 g), female 1.6-2.5 oz (46-72 g). Dark brown above. Throat and chest pure white, belly dark brown or rufous according to race, lower belly dark brown. Some Asiatic races have largely white underparts.

DISTRIBUTION

Numerous disjunct populations in hilly areas of Europe from Ireland, northern Norway, Iberia, central and southern Europe to Italy and Greece, Urals and Caucasus, northern Africa, Turkey, central Asia to Tibet and western China. Largely sedentary, but some Scandinavian birds winter in the Baltic States, Poland, and adjacent Russia, and the Urals population appears to be partially migratory.

HABITAT

Rushing mountain streams, occasionally rocky lakeshores.

BEHAVIOR

Behaves as others of the genus; territorial, lives in pairs along streams. Hunts in and under water. Song is a sweet, rippling warble; both sexes sing. Call is a loud penetrating "zit-zit."

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Bulk of prey aquatic invertebrates, but also fish eggs and fry, almost all taken underwater from streambeds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nest typical of genus, domed with a side entrance, built by both sexes, of mosses, grass, etc., situated in rock crevices or in artificial sites such as bridges, always close to and frequently directly over water. Nests early; eggs unmarked white, one to seven, usually four or five, incubated by female alone, 12-18 days, usually about 16. Young fed by both sexes, fledging 20-24 days, usually about 22. Frequently double—occasionally triple— brooded. Generally monogamous, but polygamy does occur.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Generally widespread in suitable habitat, but most populations have shown declines, some serious. Will re-colonize previous habitat if pollution ceases or water quality improves. Race olympicus in Cyprus Extinct.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

No economic significance; has great appeal as a symbol of beautiful and unspoiled mountain countryside. ♦

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