Cinclidae - Dippers

The dippers are small family of aquatic birds, making them unique amongst passerine birds. Dumpy, robin-sized birds with a characteristic cocked tail, they are adapted to foraging underwater on small invertebrates living in fast-flowing streams. Part of their bulk comes from the thick plumage which is insulating and large pectoral (chest) muscles which enable them to use their short wings to swim underwater.

Dippers are highly territorial and a pair will strongly defend a length of stream. The nest, usually in the middle of the territory is a well constructed cup, often placed under a bridge or rocky overhang.

Only one species, the Dipper occurs in Europe, and while common in the north and west of Britain, is largely absent from the south and east, reflecting a lack of suitable habitat.