Cinclus cinclus

Photo credit: Tom Marshall, Scottish Wildlife Trust


Length: up to 18cm

Wingspan: up to 30cm

Weight: 55-75g

Average life span: 3 years


Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015)


When to see

January to December


Dippers can be found by rivers and burns, but also estuaries, lochs and the coast. They are often found sitting on a stone in a river or stream. They feed on invertebrates like stonefly and caddisfly larvae, and small fish like minnows. They do this with the unique method of walking into and under the water to find food. While hunting underwater they stretch out their wings to help them balance, which allows them to walk along the riverbed or hold their position in fast flowing water. Their name comes from the head bobbing motion they show when perched by the water and hopping on and off rocks.

Dippers will nest next to a stream in their territory in mating season and are known to rebuild their nest in the same site year after year.


How to Identify

Dippers are chocolate-brown, with a white throat and chest. They are short tailed, with a plump body shape. Dippers will often be seen bobbing up and down on a stone in a river or burn. They have a low, whirring flight.


Dippers by your Local River

Think you’ve spotted dippers by your local river? We want to hear from you! Send your photos or stories to us at riverlife@forthriverstrust.org or at facebook.com/ForthRiversTrust