Dippers are a very unique bird of the
cold, fast streams in the Black Hills of South Dakota. American Dippers feed on insects
found on stream bottoms, swimming underwater to depths of up to 20 feet and even
walking on the stream bed. They often nest on the underside of bridges over
Habitat: Fast, clear, cold mountain
Diet: Aquatic insects, snails, small fish, worms
Behavior: Forages by catching food underwater, by
either submerging its head and probing crevices or flipping over rocks, or
walking underwater on the stream bottom. They will also occasionally
pluck food items from the water's surface, or feed on insects along stream
banks. Photos of many of these behaviors can be seen at the bottom of the
Nesting: May through July
Song: Shrill zzzeet calls; long rich
Migration: Permanent resident.
Conservation Status: Local in the Black Hills only
in South Dakota. Often referred to as an
"indicator" species, due to its need for fairly pristine
conditions. The presence of American Dippers generally infers very good
water quality. They have declined through many parts of their range
due to declines in water quality.
South Dakota "Hotspot": The best bet to find an
American Dipper in the state is Spearfish Creek in Spearfish Canyon. Try below
Roughlock Falls, as there is typically a nesting pair just below the falls.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - American Dipper"
Photo Information: July 8th, 2008 - Below
Roughlock Falls in the Black Hills - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution American Dipper photos