Norway’s national bird: The White-Throated Dipper

Countries select national birds on the basis of them being the country’s most representative bird species.

Since 1963, Norway’s national bird has been the white-throated dipper, after being selected in a listener poll on Norwegian public radio.

The white-throated dipper was not selected based on its looks, but rather for its ability being to survive and thrive in Norway ever seasonal-changing nature.

White-throated dipper

The white-throated dipper lives and nests throughout Norway. It grows to be about 18 cm long and has a short tail.

Visually, it does not stand out, having a black/brown feathered coat, with the exception of its characteristic white throat and upper breast. 

Where this extraordinary bird stands out is its way of life. They prefer to live along the rapids of streams and rivers, or where these fall into lakes.

Here they stand by the shore, singing with its chattering and jarring whistle tones. This gives it its Norwegian name “Fossekall” which translates to “waterfall caller”. 

When resting by the bank, they often do their periodic bobbing, which is why it is known as a dipper in English.

It both lives and nest close to its territory near waterfalls where they feed on aquatic invertebrates, including worms, larvae, beetles, and crustaceans. 

They frequently wade or even dive into the ice-cold water to secure their food, and are known for being able to submerge themselves in the stream even during the cold Norwegian winters.

You can see it for yourself in the video below by Norwegian nature photographer Ronny Solheim

They always nest very near water, and it is said that it is not uncommon for them to place their nest behind a running waterfall.

It lays between 3-6 eggs in spring, which are incubated for about 15-18 days before hatching. The chicks leave the nest after 3-4 weeks, before being fed by their parents for a couple of weeks before they fly off to find a territory and mate of their own.

There are an estimated 10-40 000 breeding pairs in Norway, and the species is not endangered, however, pollution of rivers and streams could become a potential threat. 

Selection and Recognition 

The white-throated dipper was selected by the Norwegian people in a listener poll on national radio in 1963.

Its ability to live and nest in the barren, and ever-changing, seasonal nature of Norway has given it a special place in the Norwegian fauna and among Norwegians, which is why it was selected.

Although it is known as “Fossekall” in Norwegian, its prominent presence in the Norwegian nature has resulted in several regional names, including:

  • Tvåtekone (washerwoman) in Setesdal
  • Straumhest (stream horse) in Voss
  • Elvekonge (River king)
  • Water Starling
  • Elvarkall (River caller)

In 2019 its position as Norway’s national bird was featured on the Norwegian Europe post stamp offered to collectors.

2019 Norwegian post stamp / photo:


Norges nasjonalfugl (Europafrimerke) – Posten (The Norwegian postal service, in Norwegian)

Fossekall – The Norwegian encyclopedia (Norwegian)

Photo of author


Erik is the creator and editor of Planet Norway. Born in Trondheim and currently living in Oslo, Erik knows the ins and outs of Norwegian History, society, and culture. His idea for starting planet Norway came about when helping his foreign fiance to settle in Norway.