Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Favorite - on Display in Clear Creek

There were more than just Rusty Blackbirds along Clear Creek. Walking along, I spotted one of my favorite birds to watch in action. The American Dipper, or as it was formerly known, Water Ouzel, is the rock star of fast moving water. On a cloudy day the Dipper looks like a gray spot on otherwise gray water. For that reason I usually find them as they call, or as an unconfirmed dark movement along a creek bed. This leads to far too many frustrating encounters, but then I see one like this, that was just hanging out in the middle of the stream. It gave me a great opportunity to get a closer look at this cool bird, without it constantly diving underwater.

Check out these heavy duty white eyelids! They are so unexpected when they appear 'in a blink' on this otherwise drab bird. Perhaps this is a bit of camoflauge specific to its habitat. I guess that the blinking appearance of white may help to mimic the changing nature of white water and keep the bird from appearing to static to potential predators. I couldn't find anything online to support that idea, but I didn't find any other explanation either.

Static, is not a word I would use to describe this bobbing and bouncing bit of bird. Watching it move across it's narrow wooden bridge was great light-hearted avian entertainment. So often when observing wildlife, the most captivating moments are tied to life, death, rivalry and love - the heavy stuff of existence. With the Dipper though, most of those actions are hidden from our eyes beneath the surface of fast moving water, or hidden away behind brush or falling water. So with this species, at least as I have observed it, life is limited to moving from place to place, and not in a direct point to point method either. It dips and bounces and it moves, reminding us that the journey can be the destination, and that at least in appearance getting there is just one big happy dance.


  1. We don't have those here, but in Arizona's high country there were many and I spent hours watching them. One of the most interesting birds!

  2. The eyelid is a little creepy-looking. Maybe its purpose is to make its prey stop for just a moment, thinking "Hey, what's up with that...AAUUGGHH!!"

  3. Dave, I love the Water Ouzel! You've got some really cool shots of this amazing bird here. I never knew about the white eyelid either. What's up with that?

    They are truly fun to watch and I always look for them when I'm near a fast moving stream in the high country.