Family Dippers (Cinclidae)

Least Concern

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)


French: Cincle plongeur German: Wasseramsel Spanish: Mirlo acuático europeo

Sturnus cinclus


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


Closest to C. pallasii. Subspecific taxonomy in need of revision, especially since data from cytochrome b sequences conflict with presumed distributions of races in W Palearctic, but have revealed a highly complicated phylogeographic structure involving at least five main clades#R#R#R. Much variation probably clinal. Birds from EC Asia (Altai Mts E to Transbaikalia) sometimes recognized as baicalensis. Proposed races meridionalis (described from Austrian Alps) and orientalis (from Han Abdiposa, in Macedonia) merged with aquaticus, and amphitryon (from N Turkey) with caucasicus. Form described as sordidus is a dark morph of leucogaster. Eleven extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. hibernicus E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – W Scotland (including Inner Hebrides) and Ireland.
  • C. c. gularis (Latham, 1801) – Scotland (except W), N, C & W England and Wales.
  • C. c. cinclus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Scandinavia E to NW Russia (E to R Pechora), also C & SW France, NW Iberia, Corsica and probably Sardinia.
  • C. c. aquaticus Bechstein, 1797 – #RC & S Europe (Belgium and E France S to E & S Iberia, Italy, Sicily and Greece).
  • C. c. olympicus Madarász, 1903 – Cyprus.
  • C. c. uralensis Serebrovski, 1927 – Ural Mts (W Russia).
  • C. c. minor Tristram, 1870 – NW Africa.
  • C. c. caucasicus Madarász, 1903 – Turkey, Caucasus, N Iraq and N Iran.
  • C. c. persicus Witherby, 1906 – SW Iran (Zagros Mts).
  • C. c. rufiventris Tristram, 1884 – Lebanon and W Syria.
  • C. c. leucogaster Bonaparte, 1850 – SC Russia (Altai Mts E to Transbaikalia) S to N Afghanistan, NW Pakistan, NW China (Tien Shan, W Kunlun Shan) and Mongolia.
  • C. c. cashmeriensis Gould, 1860 – N side of W & C Himalayas from N Pakistan E to Sikkim.
  • C. c. przewalskii Bianchi, 1905 – #RN Bhutan and C China (S Gansu and NW Sichuan S to SE & E Xizang).
  • Descriptive notes

    17–20 cm; male 53–76 g and female 46–72 g (nominate), male 60–76 g and female 50–67 g (gularis), sexes combined c. 41–65 g (... read more


    Male song high-pitched, piercing, loud melodious warbling or trilling, comprises variety of notes... read more


    Fast-flowing, clear-water rocky streams and rivers with riffles and exposed rocks, and with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Freshwater insects and larvae; more rarely, marine invertebrates in coastal areas. Principal prey mayfly (Ephemeroptera) and stonefly (... read more


    Laying Feb–Jun in British Is, mid-Mar to May in NW & C Europe, early May to early Jun in Scandinavia; mid-Mar to May in NW Africa... read more


    Resident, but some post-breeding descent from high altitudes to more lowland rivers, sometimes to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common and widespread on suitable watercourses. Estimated European population 120,000–300,000 pairs. Densities highest in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ormerod, S., Tyler, S. & Christie, D.A. (2019). White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus). 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 14 November 2019).