American Dipper and cased caddis


Active Member
Gregg Thompson is a photographer I've admired for some time. He recently shared some amazing photos of an American Dipper eating a cased caddis that I thought I'd pass along. I'm going to have to watch more closely for these birds when I'm on the water.

From Cornell lab of Ornithology: A chunky bird of western streams, the American Dipper is North America's only truly aquatic songbird. It catches all of its food underwater in swiftly flowing streams by swimming and walking on the stream bottom



Active Member
Watching them walking under water picking up various insects is a hoot. Especially love when the hop back on their rock with the silver bubbles clinging on their feathers.

A very cool bird that builds an unique nest. Their nest is consists of a hollow ball of moss roughly volley/basket ball size; on occasion have found nest that appeared to have double chambers. The nest are often built around waterfalls/cascades though in roaded areas it is common to find their nest under bridges in the stuck on the angle of the girders and the bottom of the bridge itself. Wonder if the young "dippers" like the gurgling of the water?


Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
Those are some great pictures! They are alll good but I like the one with the caddis out of the case and case is still in the air. The other bird I like that hangs out in the same areas are harlequin ducks - females and young only on the mountain streams.

Salma - Thanks for the nest description, had no idea that was waht they used as a nest.


Active Member
OMJ and Finluvr,
I don't think that caddis bite but caddis larvae have what are known as "anal hooks" which are used to keep themselves in their cases (or, in the case of uncased caddis like the green rockworm, to hang onto a perch on the rocks) and, when picked up, they can pinch a little with these hooks as they try to get a purchase on whatever surface they find themselves in contact with.


The wanted posters say Tim Hartman
I've always enjoyed watching these birds. I love the little repetitive "dip" they do while standing on the rocks. Almost looks as if they're curtseying!

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Sometimes i see a dipper swimming under water with one wing breaking the surface, and I have to do a double take and make sure that it isn't a fish!
The other bird I like that hangs out in the same areas are harlequin ducks - females and young only on the mountain streams.
I was wondering if harlequin ducks might come up in this post since they do inhabit the same areas as dippers. Harlequins also walk along the bottoms of streams feeding on invertebrates like dippers. The first time I saw a harlequin with a youngster floating along a mountain stream at 8000 feet elevation I thought I was delirious. I soon learned that that is where they nest and raise youngsters. Both birds can be an excellent clue for us fly fishers, and give even more reasons for de-barbing hooks.

Excellent pics. Thanks for posting these!

Greg Armstrong

Dippers; aka Water Ouzels - also have a really loud and musical song they aren't shy with. I'll often hear them before seeing them.
They even sing in the winter in the worst kind of weather.
Happy little birds on a gray and wet day. Here's one singing;
Thanks for posting the great photos.