Episode 184 – White-Throated Dipper: Milk’s Favorite Bird

“…and today we’re talking about a bird that loves chocolate chip cookies. But more on that later.”


  • Has an overall build of a sandpiper with a rotund body and long legs.
  • Its feathers are black or dark brown along the back, tail, and wings.
    • There’s a small rufous patch just under the shoulders and the head and face are brown
    • Of course, the throat is stark white
  • Bobby’s beak and legs are black

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We don’t have a new Measure Up intro!

  1. Snow Leopard
  2. Snowy Owl
  3. Snowshoe Hare
  4. Arctic Fox


  • 18 centimetres (7.1 in) long
  • How many white-throated dippers go into the thickness of Jostedalsbreen, Norway’s largest glacier?
  • Hint: The glacier is located in Vestland county in Fjord, Norway, and it’s not just Norway’s largest glacier, it’s the largest in continental Europe. The glacier covers 487 square kilometers. 
  • 3,333 dippers. Jostedalsbreen is 600 metres thick. 


  • 2.2 oz (62.3 grams)
  • How many White-Throated Dippers go into the heaviest shoes ever walked in?
  • Hint: The record was set by an American (heck yes) career record breaker named Ashrita Furman. Furman currently holds 531 records and has broken more than 600. The shoes were worn in Potter’s Field, London in 2010.
  • 2,349 dippers. The shoes were 146.5 kg (323 lbs).

Fast Facts

  • Diet: worms, aquatic insect larvae, beetles, clams, snails, frogs, and shrimp.
  • Behavior:
  • Range: Western and Southern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Russia, Near East (Turkey, Iran, a few Stans)
  • It’s Norway’s national bird 

Major Fact

If the White-Throated Dipper was a toy, he’d be relegated to the Island of Misfit Toys. 

The dipper loves to spend his days by running rivers and streams. You may find him perched on a rock that’s emerging from the water, where he will perform a small, bouncy dance that’s adorable to see.

These chubby little birds look like your typical garden seed eater. They don’t have the webbed feet of water fowl or the long legs of a stork. And yet they get most of their subsistence from the water. 

They may wade into streams to catch minnows or water bugs. But their aquatic activities don’t stop there. They will also fully submerged their little bird bodies underwater for some tasty morsels. 

They may hop in from a rock or the bank, but they may also dive in with the spirit and determination of an eagle. 

The strange sight of a small bird walking or diving into the water has created some legends about this feathered fisher. 

They are said to defy the laws of buoyancy by walking into a river and hopping around the river bottom without being swept away. However, this is an inaccurate assumption. 

They can stand on a river bottom when they need to, but they do so by gripping the bottom with their feet. When they move around underwater, they will swim like they’re flying. 

They have become so good at farming rivers and streams for resources that they don’t have to fly south with other birds. Some will fly south or descend to the lowlands of their regions, but wherever there is open running water, you may find dippers through the winter months. 

With winter habits of a dipper may vary on an individual basis, with some enjoying the snowy banks and crips streams and others seeking out warmer areas. 

Aquatic life seems to be inborn in dippers. Even young featherless hatchlings will dive into the water when threatened.

If you are one for nice serene nature documentaries, there are a ton beautifully shot white-throated dipper videos on youtube. I’ll link to a good documentary by a photographer named Gunner Dressler.

Ending: So stay anchored, go where the gettin’s good, and stay 10 steps ahead of the competition like Bobbing Fischer here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.