Dipper Cinclus cinclus

The dipper is a short-tailed bird with a plump body shape. They are unmistakable, with a white throat and breast, whilst the rest of their body is a brown-black colour. They can be found in many different habitats, including; rivers and streams, estuaries, lakes, and the coast.


Dippers have an amazing ability to hunt underwater, they stretch out their wings to balance their weight and then walk along the river bed. They are commonly seen hopping on and off rocks and bobbing up and down whilst perched – that is how they got their name. During the breeding season, the dipper couple will build their nest next to a stream or waterfall in their territory with the entrance facing down towards the water. Dippers may re-use the same nest site for several years, but usually re-build their nest at the start of each breeding season.


  • Length: 18cm
  • Wingspan: 25-30cm
  • Weight 55-75g
  • Average Lifespan: 3 years


Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as an Amber List species. Scotland is home to around 15,000 pairs.


Widespread throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

When to see

The dipper can be seen throughout the year.


  • Dippers are able to stay under water for up to 30 seconds. Their eyes are able to function underwater because of transparent eyelids that act as goggles when submerged.
  • One dipper nesting site has reportedly been used every breeding season for 123 years continuously!

Common name


Species name

Cinclus cinclus

IUCN Red List status

Least Concern

When to see in Scotland

The dipper can be seen throughout the year.

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Carron Glen or Falls of Clyde

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