American Dipper - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image American Dipper - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image American Dipper - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image American Dipper - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
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American Dipper
Cinclus mexicanus

Dippers
Dipper Family (Cinclidae)

Size: Length: 18-21.5 cm

Description: Look for this drab, but fascinating bird along fast flowing Rocky Mountain streams. A year round resident, it literally flies under water, fighting the strong currents, for aquatic insects. it is a gray bird with a short, erect tail. Its name arises from its curious habit of constantly bobbing up and down, perhaps trying to stay warm after dipping in the frigid waters of our streams. Its ability to swim underwater is fascinating to watch, especially when one realizes that its toes are neither webbed nor lobed. When startled, they give off a shrill "dzeet", and then fly low to the water, never varying from its course. The always nest near water, often on bridge pilings, under cliffs, or even behind waterfalls. The nest is a domed collection of moss and grass with an entrance on one side, usually the side facing the water. In rare cases, there may be two broods per season. In order to facilitate their aquatic capabilities, the dipper has numerous adaptations. Large oil glands help to keep the feathers well oiled to keep the birds from freezing as it swims in the frigid waters at sub-zero air temperatures. Its eyes are covered with nictitating membranes and the nostrils have flaps that close when submerged.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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