Family Dippers (Cinclidae)

Least Concern

White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus)


French: Cincle à tête blanche German: Weißkopf-Wasseramsel Spanish: Mirlo acuático coroniblanco

Cinclus leucocephalus


, 1844,

Department of Junín, Peru


Considered conspecific with C. schulzii in past, but differs significantly in plumage coloration and pattern. Races well defined: leuconotus differs from nominate by its white back (2) and white belly (3), but no other distinctions known; rivularis greyer than the other two (2) with no or little white below throat (2); studies needed, with vocalizations as a focus. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. rivularis Bangs, 1899 – Santa Marta Dipper – Santa Marta Mts, in N Colombia.
  • C. l. leuconotus P. L. Sclater, 1858 – White-backed Dipper – Sierra de Perijá, and Andes from W Venezuela (S from Lara) S to Ecuador.
  • C. l. leucocephalus Tschudi, 1844 – White-capped Dipper – Andes of Peru and NW Bolivia (S to W Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    15–16·5 cm; 38–59 g. Nominate race has whitish crown and nape with fine dark spots and streaks, blackish-brown band from lores back to nape-side;... read more


    Song a prolonged loud musical trill; flight call a loud sharp “dzeet” or buzzing... read more


    Fast-flowing rocky mountain streams and rivers with boulders, rapids, waterfalls and similar,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food includes various aquatic invertebrates, notably blackfly larvae (Simuliidae), mayfly nymphs (Ephemeroptera), caddis-fly larvae (... read more


    Nests with eggs found in Feb and Mar in Venezuela; in Colombia, birds in breeding condition in Feb–Sept in N, and fledglings in Oct... read more


    Resident; possibly some altitudinal movement in non-breeding season.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common throughout range; widespread, sometimes occurring on even very small rivulets. Normally at densities of less than 1... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ormerod, S., Tyler, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus). 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 27 February 2020).