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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

An American Dipper in a Clear Stream

March 19th, 2013 · No Comments

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American Dippers are the only aquatic songbirds in North America. They are unique in finding almost all of their food underwater in swiftly flowing streams. They dive into the water and walk on the bottoms of streams where the current can be too fast and the water too deep for us to stand.

They can stay underwater so long because they have more oxygen capacity than any other songbird. In the rest of the world are four other dipper species, but the American Dipper lives only in Western North America on streams where the water is clear and unpolluted.

That’s where I found one yesterday. I watched it for an hour as it fed in Boulder Creek in Boulder County, Colorado.

We now call them American Dippers (Cinclus mexicanus) because they jauntily bounce their bodies up and down as they look for food. But for at least 800 years we called them Water Ouzels, and some people, myself included, still prefer the old name.

This American Dipper or Water Ouzel lives year round on Boulder Creek, where I had found it before. But I got my best photographs of it yesterday.

The day was chilly and windy, but the sun shown brightly. However, most of the creek where I found the dipper was in the shade, so I waited patiently for the bird to move into the sun.

An American Dipper Takes a Break for Some Sun

An American Dipper Takes a Break for Some Sun

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Up for Air after Finding Some Food Under Water

Up for Air after Finding Some Food Under Water

Click on the picture above to enlarge

As I watched the dipper from the bank of the stream I was cold in my down jacket and gloves. But even in water barely above freezing it was all in a day’s work for this remarkable bird.


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