American Dipper: Water Ouzel or Dancing Dipper

American DipperThe American Dipper or Water Ouzel does not boast bold colors or an impressive wingspan. Many anglers probably do not even notice the dipper duck in and out of the water. The mighty dipper is a songbird that has the lifestyle of a fishing bum; dwelling on the riverbank, following the river's channel to the next fishing hole, and plucking insect larvae and small fish from the water. They inhabit and flourish in clean rivers and streams, where white water abounds and turbulence is the norm. Most would not even dare to wade where they frolic and few would manage to get a decent drift or swing through their playground.

Last week as I sat down for a very welcome, warm cup of miso soup, a dipper paid me a visit. I slid out my video camera and captured the dipper performing the "chicken dance" and slip, sliding around the rocks of this unnamed coastal river. The dipper may not be the most eye catching or distinguished bird, but it is perfectly adapted for its environment and a sighting always brings a smile.

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