There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

American Dipper

Cinclus mexicanus

Chunky, aquatic songbird
Slate gray body with browner head
Dark, slender bill
Dark eyes
White eyelids
Very short tail

Listen to its song.

Sometimes a bird's behaviour is more important than its appearance when it comes to identification. That was certainly the case in this instance. I saw this rather plain, drab looking bird at Goldstream Provincial Park this afternoon. I probably wouldn't have paid it much attention except that it was standing in the fast moving, but shallow, water. I was watching it stick its head in and out of the water when suddenly it went under. I thought it was drowning, being swept away by the rushing water. I was trying to decide what action to take to save the poor thing when it suddenly popped up again. The bird showed no distress and proceded to repeat this behaviour numerous times, which led me to conclude that it was in no danger afterall. Apparently,  it catches its food underwater by walking on the stream bottom.  
going under


Learn more about the American Dipper.

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