Friday, February 27, 2009

I'll Be Dipped

Another walk along the Provo River, another bird for the life list! This past weekend's walk was not too productive, and in fact I didn't spot a single bird until pausing on a bridge on the way back down the snow packed trail. While gazing out over the river, however, I noticed a small bird bobbing along near the rocks, and I was startled to see it dive into the river and pop up several feet away. Given the temperature of that mountain-fed water, I certainly wouldn't have gone for a dip.

Twenty minutes of observation later -- including trudging through the knee-deep snow to get closer to the bank -- I knew I'd added the American Dipper to my life list. This small bird is a solitary individual that flies low along rivers and waterways before alighting and examining the water. It can "fly" underwater, much like penguins, as it hunts for insects and other sustenance. When on rocks or riverbanks, it will "dip" up and down quickly as it watches the river. The stubby tail, round body, pale legs, and white eyelids are very easily identifiable, as is the distinctive behavior.

It always amazes me to discover new birds in old spaces. You never know when a new species will appear, whether it is in your backyard, along a favorite walk, or in a neighborhood park. As long as we stay observant, we will always be able to see the great avian diversity around us.


Red said...

Nice eye! I can't imagine dipping in that water either - crazy, but amazing bird.

Larry said...

Hey Melissa that is a great shot of the Dipper, or as I found out earlier, the Water Ouzel

They are amazing aren't they? Can you imagine walking on the bottom of an almost freezing stream, sometimes with currents that even a person couldn't stand in?

Amy H. (bird geek) said...

Hi Melissa,

I found you on the Nature Blog Network. (I'm in Utah, too.) Congrats on your American Dipper! A lot of people wait a very long time to see this bird. It's definitely a memorable sighting.

Anyway, nice work on your blog. It's fun to see what other Utah birder/bloggers are working on.

Anonymous said...

I love Dippers (and their old name Water Ouzels--I just like to say it, Ouzels, try it. It has a nice mouth feel.) I have seen them in Montana and oddly enough in Costa Rica. They do love icy water though. Brrrr, I'm with you. I would so NOT be going in for a dip.

Are you on Twitter? I'm @birdingbev

Melissa said...

Wow, I didn't think it was that hard to find this bird -- but then again, my life list is so pathetically short, I'm sure I've missed a ton of easy birds. Here's to one more! :)