Whitecapped dipper

Cinclus leucocephalus

TAXONOMY

Cinclus leucocephalus Tschudi, 1844, Junín, Peru. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Cincle à tête blanche; German: Weisskopf-Wasseramsel; Spanish: Pájaro de Agua.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6 in (15 cm); weight (sexes not distinguished) 1.3-2.1 oz (38-59 g). Plumage varies according to race; back black, chest white, eyestripe black, crown gray-white with blackish streaks (Peru and Bolivia), or back black with white center, chest and belly white, lower belly blackish, eyestripe blackish, crown gray with darker streaks, eyestripe blackish (Venezuela to Ecuador).

DISTRIBUTION

Andes of western South America, from northwest Venezuela, Colombia through Ecuador and Peru to northern Bolivia.

HABITAT

Fast-flowing mountain streams, 3,300-12,800 ft (1,000-3,900 m). BEHAVIOR

Typical of genus; territorial, living in pairs along mountain streams. Less inclined to dive with rushing water than Eurasian or American species; also forages in stream-side vegetation. Song is a loud musical trill; call a sharp "zeet-zeet."

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Bulk of prey items are aquatic invertebrates. Prey is picked off wet boulders as well as from stream bottoms; will also take items such as earthworms from sides of streams.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Relatively little information available. Nest is a roughly spherical construction with a circular entrance hole at the side, built of mosses with an inner cup of dry leaves, strips of bark, etc., situated in crevices in rock-faces above flowing water. Eggs two, color not recorded but presumably white. Incubation and fledging data unknown.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Generally common and widely distributed in suitable habitat; however, it is susceptible to habitat degradation and has disappeared from some watersheds, e.g., near Quito, Ecuador, as a result of pollution.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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