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  • Writer's pictureBruce Smith

Dippers in Love

Yesterday, my wife Diana and I saw something unexpected. Large or small, unexpected observations of nature often prove the most memorable. And what we saw while walking along a tiny local stream fit that bill.

As we crossed a footbridge over the creek, Diana spotted an American dipper, and then a second. This stream remained mostly unfrozen in February, due to our mild winter and because it's partly spring-fed. But these two birds -- that we watched for more than 15 minutes -- weren't bobbing in the stream for invertebrates or small fish. No, they were too smitten with each other, as if they knew Vallentine's Day was around the corner. They enthusiastically wing-fluttered and serenaded each other, oblivious to us.

Owls begin their hooting courtship this month, but most birds wait for spring's arrival. So, I did some research and found that dipper romance just can't wait for warmer weather. Their courtship begins in February or March, as this video clip I captured demonstrates.

Read about North America's only aquatic songbird in this linked essay from Big Sky Journal magazine and from the Alaskan Yupik Birdbook.


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