Dean M. Chriss
American Dipper, Yellowstone River, Wyoming
(Click image to enlarge)
American dippers are small, inconspicuous, and reclusive songbirds uniquely adapted to feeding under water. The common name “dipper” comes from this bird's habit of bending its legs so its entire body moves up and down in a dipping motion. Dipping takes place most frequently when the birds are closely approached or disturbed. Dippers are also called “water ouzels”. They can dive and propel themselves under the water with swimming motions of their wings. In shallow water, they literally walk along the bottom of streams by grasping stones with their elongated toes. These birds use their wings to help them stay submerged.