A new bird sighting for me!

American Dipper

American Dipper

Been doing a bit of bird watching over the years and it is always very exciting to spot a new one.  Went up to Baker Lake this past weekend with ‘Pebbles,’ not her real name, and we just took the afternoon to ‘sniff around.’  It was very cold so we parked in the almost empty Baker Lake Campground where the sun was shining.  Lunch off the tail gate.

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There is an overflow ditch along this campground that is part of a giant earthen and rock dam near the boat launch.  This looks like a little creek, flowing over rocks.  We spotted a bird working it’s way along this creek.  Nothing special as far as plumage; just charcoal and black feathers and lighter feet and legs; very rounded and fast, about 9 inches tall.  It was the antics of this bird that actually really caught our attention.  It would hop between rocks and then dive into the water.  Disappear all the way under, then appear a bit away; leaping out.  This was not a water bird, it had feet like a perching bird, like a robin or chickadee.  Then it would do this bobbing up and down about 10 times.  Then repeat.  When he exited the water he did not look wet at all, like his feathers totally shed all the water.  Whoa!

Copyright Glenn Bartley

Copyright Glenn Bartley

It was only later back home when I looked this bird up that I found that it was an American Dipper,  (Cinclus mexicanus), also known as a Water Ouzel. They work mountain streams that contain rapids.  They dive into the water and walk along the bottom searching for food.  They then leap out and eat what they have found.  Their eye lids are transparent so when closed they can still see underwater, sort of like goggles.  They have scale flaps that they use to cover their ears when underwater.  I read that they defend a linear portion of a stream as their own.  The photo to the left is a good example of what he looked like immediately after getting out of the water.

(None of these photos are mine, but represent what we did see.)

American Dipper

American Dipper

Photo of mine near Mt Baker, at left, on another day.
Dennis’til next time,
Dennis George
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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