The American DipperThe American Dipper is a small, gray bird found along clear, swift-moving streams of the western states.  It does not migrate away from the cold weather in Wyoming but seems to thrive in it.  I have watched this bird on numerous occasions when the air temperature was sub-zero and it continued to feed non-stop by diving under water to locate small invertebrates.

American Dipper looking under water

At times it submerges only it’s head into the water scanning the creek bottom and other times I have watched it dive through the air a distance of 18+ inches before hitting the water and diving to the rocks below bringing a caddis larvae to the surface in its bill. It will dive continuously for a period of time working the same underwater area pulling up a variety of morsels for dining.

As winter continues it will take American Dipper divingmoments out of it’s feeding schedule to sing a melodic song consisting of a series of trills and whistles that are a thrill to hear as they are added to the sounds of the babbling creek on a cold, gray, winter’s day.

A quick little bird, it is often hard to follow with the camera and lens; predicting it’s movements works best but focus is still difficult to maintain on this constantly moving subject.  I have sat for hours watching and attempting to photograph the American Dipper.  It seems to avoid the areas with sun, sticking to the shadows as I desperately try to decrease my ISO and bring my shutter speed up to stop it in action. The Dipper is a photographic challenge along with great entertainment as it makes it’s living along cold, mountain streams throughout the winter months of Wyoming.

American Dipper on Ice