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Dipping Through the Seasons

January 28, 2019
American Dipper at Kokanee Creek

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is a remarkable place and among the most remarkable things about Kokanee Creek are the American Dippers that nest at the creek. Dippers are song birds whose songs and calls can be heard even above the noise of Kokanee Creek. Dippers swim underwater to feed on the aquatic invertebrates, small fish and fish eggs that live among the rocks of the creek. These small grey birds have white feathers on their eyelids so that as they dip up and down (they are after all called dippers), they show their white eye lids. You can watch these behaviours in the videos below.


Dippers are year round residents at Kokanee Creek. Snow covers the park in winter and it can be so quiet that you hear no human-made noises – just the background roar of the creek. Then, amidst that roar you suddenly hear the dippers. They may be singing a solo in the middle of the creek or calling as they chase each other up and down the creek. The Kokanee Salmon may be the keystone species of Kokanee Creek, but I think of the dippers as the heart of Kokanee Creek.


Spring wakes at Kokanee Creek in March but if you are really yearning for spring, you can see the signs in February. In April the dippers are busy bringing moss to build a new nest or to repair their old nest. In about a month or so little yellow beaks poke out of the nest entrance and you can hear the dipper young calling for food. The parents brood the young and spend more and more time bringing underwater invertebrates to feed those noisy young. You can hear them calling in the video.

 


Dippers may nest twice a season at Kokanee and in most years young survive from both early and later nesting attempts to land in the roaring waters of the creek. They begin their lives dipping on the creek, hopping from rock to rock and calling loudly for food. Their parents are kept very busy feeding these “teen age” young. The dipper fledglings start dipping under the water almost at once as they learn to feed themselves.

I hope you enjoy these  videos and that they inspire you to learn more about American Dippers – and about the other amazing wild animals that cross your path.

all photos and videos copyright J.A. Siderius 2019

2 Comments
  1. Darling dippers! It seems you’re not the only dipper lover – another dipper clip turned up on my Facebook feed today – not our American dipper but, a clever little guy none the less. https://www.facebook.com/BBCScotland/videos/2043281942431970/

    • an amazing video – they seem to take their own little envelope of air with them! Thanks for the link – I will show it to the kids at Kokanee this summer!

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