(Cinclus mexicanus)

(Currently studied by CWE researcher Christy Morrissey)

The dipper is a unique songbird species that inhabits fast moving creeks and rivers in alpine and sub-alpine areas throughout British Columbia.It is the only truly aquatic songbird in the world, diving into water to find food and nesting on cliffs, boulders and stream banks of clear, rocky creeks and rivers.In winter, they often move to streams and rivers at lower elevations and concentrate in higher numbers, sometimes using very narrow creeks and slower-moving rivers or lakes.

The dipper has declined or disappeared from certain streams that have become polluted and has been suggested as a good indicator of water quality because of its diet of aquatic insects and small fish.

Current research on this species is the first in British Columbia where we are investigating the effects of trace metals and organic contaminants on migrant and resident dipper populations.We have identified seasonal movement patterns of the species and the uptake of contaminants through its diet. 

Last updated on 4 Feb, 20031. Contact CWE webmaster.