Species information

Scientific name

Cinclus cinclus


Fast-flowing upland streams and rivers in the north and west of England and in Scotland.


Dippers are small, dark brown birds with a white chest and neck. They are quite easy to recognise because they can only be found along fast-flowing streams – you’ll often spot them standing on a rock in the middle of the stream, bobbing up and down, or flying fast and low above the water.


Dippers swim and dive and even walk underwater to look for food. They eat water beetles, water boatmen, worms, tadpoles, insect larvae and small fish. In early spring a pair of dippers builds a beautiful dome-shaped nest of moss, lined with dead leaves. The nests are usually on ledges close to the water or often on bridges. The female lays 4 or 5 eggs and incubates them until they hatch. The chicks are fed by both parents. Often a pair will have two broods in a year.


Dippers are thought to be scarce but fairly stable in the North York Moors National Park. Threats to dipper populations include the pollution of streams and rivers, and a lack of suitable nest sites. The National Park Authority has been working with farmers and landowners along the River Esk and the Upper Derwent to carry out improvements to river habitats which will benefit wildlife. You can help care for these birds by taking your litter home when walking along river banks.

back to top