Dippers

Wednesday, May 10th 2023

Members of the Swaledale Ringing Group are all licensed by the BTO, to handle and ring birds.  There are various levels, trainee, C license, then A, then Trainer.  It can take many years to reach each level.  When they go to ring birds across the training area, they take with them a great deal of expertise.  This also includes knowing where to look for Dipper nests.

Foxglove does have Dippers along Risedale Beck, but they are not often seen  If you do see one please report it in the Field Centre.  Dippers get their name from the fact that they 'dip'.  They are associated along water courses, often shallow fast flowing ones.  Diet is mainly invertbrates found as the birds dip and sometimes swim underwater.  The white breast feathers can make them stand out as they bob amongst the stones in becks and streams.

During the breeding season a pair will set up a territory along part of a suitable habitat.  The nest is often made in cracks and crevices, man made structures like bridges can also be used.  It is a domed structure made of grasses, leaves and moss.  Both adults help to build the nest but it is the female who lines it.  Four to five eggs are laid and the female incubates them for about 16 days.  The female broods her young for a further 12 to 13 days, although she does leave them to help gather food with her mate.  The young fledge about 24 days from hatching but are fed after they leave the nest for a further week.  The nest is relined ready for a second brood.

As with many birds fed by their parents they have a gape.  When they open their beaks it is often a bright colour, yellow or red, to encourage the parents to put the food into the beak.  On this photo of a youngster you can see the size that the gape will be when it opens its beak!


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