American Dipper: Small, wren-like bird, dark gray with short, cocked tail, white eyelids that flash when blinked. Straight black bill. Wades, swims and dives for food. Feeds on aquatic insects, larvae, clams, snails, crustaceans, and small fish. Strong direct flight on rapid wing beats.
Range and Habitat
American Dipper: Found from northern treeline in Alaska, throughout the Rockies, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada, and as far south as Panama. Inhabits swift flowing mountain streams; less frequently found along mountain ponds and lakes. Occasionally appears on rocky coasts during winter.
This species is equipped with an extra eyelid called a nictitating membrane that allows it to see underwater, and scales that close its nostrils when submerged.
To be able to survive in cold waters during the winter, the American Dipper has a low metabolic rate, extra oxygen-carrying capacity in its blood, and a thick coat of feathers.
Unlike most other songbirds, it molts its wing and tail feathers all at once in the late summer. It is flightless during this time.
A group of dippers are collectively known as a "ladle" of dippers.
The American Dipper is native to such countries as Costa Rica, Canada, the United States, Panama, Guatemala and Honduras. It has also been seen in Nicaragua as well. The range of the American Dipper is quite large and is estimated to be nearly 5 million square kilometers. The American Dipper's population is thought to be around 630,000 individual birds. In 2000 the American Dipper had an evaluation of Lower Concern, but since that time the evaluation has been downgraded to a Least Concern due the fact that there is no immediate concern regarding population levels.