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Dippers and Winter Magic

December 12, 2012
Dippers dive, swim and walk under water!

Dippers dive, swim and walk under water!

Winter can seem so bleak, or grey and lifeless.  But if you venture out often enough; if you listen and hear, watch and see what is around you, you might just see – well, winter magic.  Walking along, crunching through the snow along a mountain stream or small frozen pond and then – the most melodic song coming from the – water?  And then – a small bird diving under the water, swimming under the water and walking under water! American Dippers are smallish, grey birds that do not attract attention because of their plumage.  But they nest under waterfalls, bridges or other structures over-hanging the water and they sing beautifully.  They do dip – constantly – and have a membrane that covers their eyes as they dive (a nictitating membrane, I believe).    And they defend their little patch of water quite vigorously in winter.  I suppose that an unfrozen piece of water that has minnows and insects is valuable and worth the energy that a Dipper can put into chasing another Dipper from the area.  I have seen them “wrestling” and chasing in the water until one of the birds (I assume the intruder) flies from the area.  Life as a Dipper is probably not easy.  It goes to show: don’t judge a bird from its plumage!

Looking under water for minnows and insects

Looking under water for minnows and insects

Sometimes  ripples  near shore mean that a Dipper is looking for food.   Stick around and watch for a while.  The sound of rushing water, or the silence of a winter pond will calm  your mind, and the Dipper will work its magic on your imagination.

Dippers are so at home in the rushing waters of mountain streams

Dippers are so at home in the rushing waters of mountain streams

Kaplunk!  Diving into freezing water.

Kaplunk! Diving into freezing water.

All photos and writing on this blog copyright J.A. Siderius

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