Friday, July 13, 2007

The American Dipper, Possibly the Coolest Bird Ever

Ok, so this may not be the most showy bird in the world, but as far as behavior, you just can't beat it. My first introduction to the American Dipper was this past spring when Megan and I were in Colorado. We saw a posting for a nature hike near Denver that highlighted this stream dwelling species. Yes, American Dippers only inhabitat cool mountain streams along the Rockies, all the way down to Central American. Anyways, Megan and I couldn't make the nature hike, we were in town for a wedding, and we just couldn't do everything.

So fast-forward to last week, actually one week ago today, and Megan and I are hiking the Hyalite Canyon Trail in Gallatin National Forest, near Bozeman Montana. A spectacular mountain hike full of blue lupines, yellow columbines, and magenta wild geraniums. Even some very cool sedges, colored very light white and almost chocolate brown. But what was the coolest thing we saw on the hike? Well we took a little side spur to grotto falls, and sure enough, there was a beautiful 20-30 foot cascading waterfall, but in and around the splash zone, I saw a medium sized gray bird, after which I almost immediately shouted, "DIPPER!". Very cool, a life bird for me, Megan and I watched a pair foraging in the stream, going after invertebrates underneath rocks. These birds can actually dive under the water, and see under the water with a thin, clear membrane that covers their eyes. The pair we saw were collecting food, then flying up to a wall covered with moss and a sullivantia looking plant, and about five feet before alighting onto the rocky cliff face, two rather large yellow mouths popped out! The birds took turns landing and feeding their little ones. Anyways, I managed to get some OK pictures, and even a video of one of them. Note the dipping action!

1 comment:

  1. What a great trip and hike that was! We beat the heat by being in the forest- cool!