The American Dipper is an extremely independent organism and is typically found by itself, much like the Ruby-throated Hunningbird. Each bird has its oThe independent American Dipper. Used with permission from MJF images (Michael Flaherty) and can be found at section of stream where they do their foraging. One of the only times they will willingly relocate is if they are forced to move by the environment for reasons like freezing over or drying out. Some other reasons they may move is migration during the winter, or if there is a food supply shortage. Otherwise they stay pretty far away from each other, except when it comes to breeding time (Gilliard 1958).  When it comes time to reproduce the Dippers start to pair up with a mate. Both sexes are fairly alike to one another. Both parents help to build the nest, feed the offspring, and watch over the nest. It is found that the mother does slightly more work than the father (Austin 1961).   

American Dipper’s are extremely territorial birds and do not appreciate other organisms intruding. Although they are typically joyous and loveable birds, when they are disturbed they can be aggressive, especially during the winter when food sources are limited, (Whitehorne 2010). To maintain their territory they must try to scare off other birds. To do this they do a neck stretching display to make themselves look intimidating, and also chase the unwelcomed organism (Perrins et al. 1985). Surprisingly enough when we look at the food web for the spring streams in which the dippers live we find that they are actually the top predator (Parker et al. 2006). They are great predators in this area because they are very high energy birds.

                             The American Dipper with a black aquatic insect in its mouth. Used with permission from © Lee Rentz, All Rights Reserved and can be found at                                             As I previously explained, American Dippers usually feed from flowing rivers and streams. They consume a wide variety of organisms. They seek insect larvae that cling to the rocks and will go all the way to the bottom of streams in search of various aquatic insects that live among the rocks and debris (Reilly 1968). Some of the aquatic insects they consume are water beetles and caddis flies. They also enjoy eating snails, mollusks, tadpoles, fish eggs and small fish, just like the Red-winged Blackbird. It is surprising how versatile they are and how many different things they can eat.

Some things that may threaten the population of American dippers are logging, mining, and construction.  Construction is not always a bad thing for the Dippers because they sometimes make their nests under bridges, so The American Dipper's Nest. Used with permission by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and can be found at the creation of roads bring about a new bridge it can supply the birds with new places to make their nests. The American Dipper is beneficial to humans in the way that it makes a fairly good bio indicator. This means that it is a good detector of how well the environment is doing. They’re sensitive to stream degradation and pollution which indicates the water quality (Parker et al. 2006). Therefore to know if the water quality is good we can look at the health of the American Dipper. One way the American Dippers health can be measured is by looking at the body mass of the birds. When the ecosystem is not doing well, the American Dippers food source will lessen, making them weigh less and possibly have to relocate to find food (Feck et al. 2004). By monitoring the size of population and mass of birds we can determine whether the ecosystem is doing well or not. By being able to catch problems early on we can prevent human illness and costly cleanups.


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