Family Dippers (Cinclidae)

Least Concern

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)


French: Cincle d’Amérique German: Grauwasseramsel Spanish: Mirlo acuático norteamericano

Cinclus mexicanus


, 1827,

Temascaltepec, Mexico


Geographical variation rather slight, possibly clinal. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. unicolor Bonaparte, 1827 – Alaska (including Aleutian Is) and W Canada S in W USA to California and New Mexico.
  • C. m. mexicanus Swainson, 1827 – N & C Mexico (Pacific slope from N Chihuahua S to Michoacán, México, Morelos#R and W Puebla).
  • C. m. dickermani A. R. Phillips, 1966 – S Mexico on Pacific slope (S Guerrero, S Oaxaca) and Atlantic slope (E Hidalgo#R, NE Puebla, C Veracruz).
  • C. m. anthonyi Griscom, 1930 – SE Mexico (C & E Chiapas), SW Guatemala, Honduras and NW & N#R Nicaragua.
  • C. m. ardesiacus Salvin, 1867 – Costa Rica (entire Caribbean slope, and Pacific slope of Cordillera de Talamanca and Cordillera Central) and W Panama (Pacific slope in Chiriquí and Veraguas).
  • Descriptive notes

    14–20 cm; male average 60–61 g, female average 53–54·5 g. Nominate race has head and neck dark brown, rest of plumage dark slate-grey, slightly... read more


    Song piercing, often loud, audible at up to 1·5 km in still conditions, a varied and... read more


    Fast-flowing rocky mountain streams and rivers with abundant invertebrate prey. Streams used for... read more

    Food and feeding

    Aquatic insects and larvae, especially mayfly (Ephemeroptera) and stonefly (Plecoptera) nymphs, caddis-fly larvae (Trichoptera), dipteran... read more


    Laying from early Mar to Jul, mainly Apr–Jun, in North America, and Feb–May in Costa Rica; sometimes double-brooded. Monogamous... read more


    Resident, with local movements; some altitudinal movement between breeding and non-breeding areas.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common and widespread throughout much of range; uncommon to locally common from Mexico S to Nicaragua; locally common in Costa Rica.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ormerod, S. & Tyler, S. (2019). American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 May 2019).