Woodpigeon (Colm coille)

Found year-round throughout most of Ireland, save for some midland areas, the ‘Dipper' is something of an oddity amongst Ireland's birds.  Although a typical songbird in most respects, resembling an oversized, plump wren, it is a highly aquatic bird, rarely found far from fast-flowing rivers and streams.


Despite lacking webbed feet and other adaptations typical of waterbirds, the Dipper feeds almost exclusively on freshwater invertebrates which it collects from riverbeds. It readily submerges itself completely, then uses its feet to anchor itself to the bottom as it walks around looking for food. Due to its high buoyancy, it is not good at actually swimming beneath the surface, but can be seen bobbing on the surface, often in very rough conditions, and perching on mid-stream rocks.

Slightly smaller than a Starling, at 18cm in length, its sooty back and wings, brown head and belly and striking white throat and breast render the Dipper unmistakable.  Sensitive to pollution, their presence or absence in otherwise suitable habitat is often a good indication of water quality.