|Conservation status||Least concern|
The Brown dipper (Cinclus pallasii) refers to a species of wren-like songbird of the family Cinclidae, and noted for its ability to hunt and feed in or under running water.
Brown dippers are medium-sized birds, roughly the size of a thrush, and at 8.7 inches in length they are the largest of the dippers. As the name implies, they are a dark brown in color.
The name "dipper" comes from their observed habit of feeding. They completely dip their heads in water many times a minute, a bobbing motion which also continues while above water when looking for food. They also completely submerse themselves under water, using their long legs to walk across the stream bed; they also use their wings as a swimming aid. Food consists of aquatic insects and insect larvae, flying insects, and small crustaceans. Small fish, tadpoles, and worms are sometimes taken, but consist of a small overall proportion of their diet.
- Brown dipper, Cinclus pallasii pallasii
- Indian brown dipper, Cinclus pallasii tenuirostris
Brown dippers are found in streams characterized by clean, unpolluted rushing water with a rocky bottom. The shorelines have good cover, with cliff sides or overhanging trees or other vegetation which also provide nesting locations. Dippers do not migrate; they stay in favored locations year-round, though they may move to other nearby streams or rivers which are unfrozen during winter.
The species ranges over much of south central and southeast Asia, and northwards to eastern Russia, China, and the Korean peninsula.
Females choose nesting sites between 6 and 20 feet above the water, in a cliff ledge, small crevasse, or attached to a man-made object such as a bridge, provided the site is near water. The nest itself is about a foot in diameter, and consists of an inner layer of grass and bark, and an outer layer of moss, with the moss designed to collect moisture and keep the interior dry. The opening to the nest is from the bottom.
Inside the nest 4 to 5 eggs are laid, with an incubation period of 17 days. The young are fed by both parents for up to 26 days. Although monogamous, dippers will lead solitary lives when the nesting period is over.
Wild cats, hawks, and owls occasionally kill dippers for food, but man is the chief threat due to pollution cast into streams and alteration of habitat, such as the construction of dams which can restrict the flow of swift-moving water. C. pallasii appears to be the most common of the dippers, with breeding pairs estimated in the tens of thousands for Russia, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.