Friday, November 9, 2012

White-throated Dipper

Cinclus cinclus
Allow me to introduce you to the White-throated, or European, Dipper. These aquatic Passerine birds can be found throughout the European Continent, as well as in western Asia, either as residents or seasonal migrants. They live near fast flowing streams and rivers, and prefer cold climates.

They are rather round little birds, measuring about 7in long and sporting short beaks and tails. They have black backs, brown heads, and a bright white throat that leads to a chestnut-colored band on the lower neck. Males and females look alike, and juveniles are greyish-brown overall.

Though they look like your average songbird, White-throated Dippers are one of five members of the Cinclus genus that actually swim underwater for their food. They have short, but strong wings that can be used like flippers, nose flaps to keep water out, and dense feathers that can be preened to be waterproof. They can swim underwater for about 30 seconds at a time. They do all their hunting by sight, and have an additional eyelid-membrane that protects their eyes while hunting for aquatic insects and small fish underwater.

White-throated Dippers are usually monogamous, and they lay their eggs quite early-- sometimes as early as late February! The adults teach their young how to feed, and the baby birds first learn how to hunt and swim in shallow pools. After fledging, it can take from 1 to 2 weeks for the juveniles to leave and go out on their own (depending on their learning speed).

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Europe, parts of Asia
Size : Body length up to 7in (18cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Cinclidae -- Genus : Cinclus -- Species : C. cinclus

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