Rufous-throated dipper (Cinclus schulzi)

GenusCinclus (1)
SizeLength: 14 – 15.5 cm (2)
Weight39.5 g (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

The name of this bird refers to the pale pinky-rufous patch on the throat and upper breast, which contrasts with the rest of its dull brownish-grey plumage. The head and face is slightly paler, and the wings and tail are slightly darker (2). At the base of the primary feathers on the rounded wings there is a broad, white band (2), visible when the bird is in flight or flicking its wings (3). The bill and legs are both dark grey (2).

Occurs in southern Bolivia and north-western Argentina, in the eastern Andes (2).

The rufous-throated dipper occurs in fast-flowing rocky mountain streams and rivers, characterised by cascades, waterfalls, rocky cliffs and banks. It breeds at elevations between 1,500 and 2,500 meters, and during frosty periods can be found as low as 800 meters (2).

A monogamous bird, the nests and eggs of the rufous-throated dipper have been found between September and January. It constructs large, globular nests, with an outer shell of moss and grass, and an inner bowl of grass stems, algae, leaves and a few feathers. The nest is situated in holes in rocky walls or bridges, on tree roots, or under the overhang of a river bank. A clutch of two eggs is laid, and the resulting chicks are fed by both parents (2).

The rufous-throated dipper is territorial, and defends a stretch of 500 to 1,000 meters of river, and occasionally even greater areas when the habitat is less favourable. Within the territory, the dipper wades in shallow water searching for aquatic insects and larvae to eat, or will perch on rocks, or at the edges of waterfalls, plucking invertebrates from the water. It also forages in the wet moss covering the rocks and in vegetation along the river banks (2).

The main threats that the rufous-throated dipper faces are the modification of rivers, due to reservoir construction, irrigation, hydroelectric schemes, and water pollution, from mining waste and agriculture. Deforestation, and the associated soil erosion, may also impact the species if it occurs adjacent to breeding areas. The introduction of trout for sport fishing is potentially affecting the dipper through competition for food. However, these threats are most prevalent at lower altitudes, and much of the species habitat remains fairly inaccessible (2) (3).

The rufous-throated dipper occurs in Baritú and Calilegua National Parks and Portrero de Yala Provincial Park in Argentina, and Tariquía National Reserve in Bolivia. The species’ ecology is also being studied in Tarija, Bolivia (3), but further conservation measures, including the protection of river systems, have been recommended to conserve this aquatic bird (2).

For further information on this species see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2007)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Birdlife International (June, 2007)