|Song recorded in Devon|
Sturnus cinclusLinnaeus, 1758
The white-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus), also known as the European dipper or just dipper, is an aquatic passerine bird found in Europe, Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The species is divided into several subspecies, based primarily on colour differences, particularly of the pectoral band. The white-throated dipper is Norway's national bird.
The white-throated dipper was described in 1758 by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Sturnus cinclus.The current genus Cinclus was introduced by the German naturalist Moritz Balthasar Borkhausen in 1797. The name cinclus is from the Ancient Greek word kinklos that was used to describe small tail-wagging birds that resided near water. Of the five species now placed in the genus, a molecular genetic study has shown that the white-throated dipper is most closely related to the other Eurasian species, the brown dipper (Cinclus pallasii).
There are 14 subspecies of which one is now extinct (with †):
The white-throated dipper is about 18 centimetres (7.1 in) long, rotund and short tailed. The head of the adult (gularis and aquaticus) is brown, the back slate-grey mottled with black, looking black from a distance, and the wings and tail are brown. The throat and upper breast are white, followed by a band of warm chestnut which merges into black on the belly and flanks. The bill is almost black, the legs and irides brown. C. c. cinclus has a black belly band. The young are greyish brown and have no chestnut band.
The male has a sweet wren-like song. During courtship the male sings whilst he runs and postures, exhibiting his snowy breast, and when displaying he will take long and high flights, like those of the common kingfisher, accompanied by sharp metallic calls clink, clink, different from the normal zil.
The white-throated dipper is closely associated with swiftly running rivers and streams or the lakes into which these fall. It often perches bobbing spasmodically with its short tail uplifted on the rocks round which the water swirls and tumbles.
It acquired its name from these sudden dips, not from its diving habit, though it dives as well as walks into the water.
It flies rapidly and straight, its short wings whirring swiftly and without pauses or glides, calling a shrill zil, zil, zil. It will then either drop on the water and dive or plunge in with a small splash.
From a perch it will walk into the water and deliberately submerge, but there is no truth in the assertion that it can defy the laws of specific gravity and walk along the bottom. Undoubtedly when entering the water it grips with its strong feet, but the method of progression beneath the surface is by swimming, using the wings effectively for flying under water. It holds itself down by muscular exertion, with its head well down and its body oblique, its course beneath the surface often revealed by a line of rising bubbles.
In this way it secures its food, usually aquatic invertebrates including caddis worms and other aquatic insect larvae, beetles, Limnaea , Ancylus and other freshwater molluscs, and also fish and small amphibians. A favourite food is the small crustacean Gammarus , an amphipod shrimp. It also walks and runs on the banks and rocks seeking terrestrial invertebrates.
The winter habits of the dipper vary considerably and apparently individually. When the swift hill streams are frozen it is forced to descend to the lowlands and even visit the coasts, but some will remain if there is any open water.
The white-throated dippers first breed when they are one year old. They are monogamous and defend a territory. The nest is almost invariably built either very near or above water. It is often placed on a rocky ledge or in a cavity. Man-made structures such as bridges are also used. The nest consists of a dome shaped structure made of moss, grass stems and leaves with a side entrance within which is an inner cup made of stems, rootlets and hair. Both sexes build the main larger structure but the female builds the inner cup. The eggs are laid daily. The clutch can contain from 1-8 eggs but usually 4–5. The eggs are smooth and glossy white and are 26 mm × 18.7 mm (1.02 in × 0.74 in) with a calculated weight of 4.6 g (0.16 oz). They are incubated by the female beginning after the last or sometimes the penultimate egg has been laid. The male will bring food to the incubating female. The eggs hatch after around 16 days and then both parents feed the altricial and nidicolous nestlings. For the first 12-13 days they are brooded by the female. Both parents remove the faecal sacs for the first 9 days. The chicks fledge at around 22 days of age but the parents continue to feed their young for another week but feeding can continue for 18 days. If the female has started a second clutch then only the male parent feeds the fledglings. One or two broods are reared, usually in the same nest. When disturbed, the young that hardly feathered will at once drop into the water and dive.
The maximum recorded age of a white-throated dipper from ring-recovery data is 10 years and 7 months for a bird ringed in Finland.Within the United Kingdom and Ireland the maximum age is 8 years and 9 months for a bird ringed and recovered in County Laois, Ireland.
The first detailed description of the white-throated dipper, dating from c.1183, is that of Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), the twelfth-century cleric, historian and traveller, in his book Topographia Hibernica , an account of his travels through Ireland in 1183–86.Gerald, a keen observer of wildlife, describes the dipper accurately, but with his notorious tendency to believe anything he was told, which so often detracts from the value of his work, states that it was an aberrant variety of the common kingfisher. The true kingfisher, according to Gerald, did not occur in Ireland in the 1180s, although it was widespread there by the eighteenth century.
The American dipper, also known as a water ouzel, is a stocky dark grey bird with a head sometimes tinged with brown, and white feathers on the eyelids that cause the eyes to flash white as the bird blinks. It is 16.5 cm (6.5 in) long, has a wingspan of 23 cm, and weighs on average 46 g (1.6 oz). It has long legs, and bobs its whole body up and down during pauses as it feeds on the bottom of fast-moving, rocky streams. It inhabits the mountainous regions of Central America and western North America from Panama to Alaska.
Dippers are members of the genus Cinclus in the bird family Cinclidae, so-called because of their bobbing or dipping movements. They are unique among passerines for their ability to dive and swim underwater.
The brown dipper, also known as Pallas's dipper, Asian dipper or the Asiatic dipper, is an aquatic songbird found in the mountains of the east Palearctic. It is a thrush-like bird with a cocked tail. Its plumage is chocolate-brown with a slightly lighter coloured back and breast. At 22 cm (8.7 in) and 87 g (3.1 oz), it is the largest of the dippers. This species, which is not often seen, is found at medium to low elevations where mountain streams flow.
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The pied kingfisher is a species of water kingfisher widely distributed across Africa and Asia. Originally described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, it has five recognised subspecies. Its black and white plumage and crest, as well as its habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish, make it distinctive. Males have a double band across the breast, while females have a single gorget that is often broken in the middle. They are usually found in pairs or small family groups. When perched, they often bob their head and flick up their tail.
The Eurasian coot, also known as the common coot, or Australian coot, is a member of the rail and crake bird family, the Rallidae. It is found in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and parts of North Africa. It has a slaty-black body, a glossy black head and a white bill with a white frontal shield. The sexes are similar.
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The corn bunting is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae. This is a large bunting with heavily steaked buff-brown plumage. The sexes are similar but the male is slightly larger than the female. Its range extends from Western Europe and North Africa across to northwestern China.
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In the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, published in 1758, the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus described 554 species of bird and gave each a binomial name.
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