Lakeside dipper


The bird sources are consistent: the dipper is a bird of clear mountain streams where it dives and scours creek bottoms for comestibles. Yet, with the approach of winter, this unusual songbird often moves downstream to lower elevations — presumably to avoid freezing creeks. Around here, that means that dippers spread out along the shore of Kootenay Lake each fall. This behaviour seems to have been baked into them: Whether or not the creek freezes, when the weather cools, many start to hunt along the lakeshore. 

This is one of a number of dippers seen hunting along the lakeshore in recent weeks. It first dived from the rock at the picture bottom. It disturbed the water on the left, and then began to surface, upper right, having captured something in its bill.

Arising out of the depths, it clutches what is probably a caddisfly larva in its bill.

It does not swallow it in the water, but takes it to a rock in the stream.

And there downs its prize.


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5 Responses to Lakeside dipper

  1. Leslie Sanders says:

    My first observation of this bird was when I was a kid in the Rockies back in the 1950s – and it was amazing. Who could have thought of a bird that ran along the bottoms of streams? I ran back to our parents – guess what I saw!!!!

  2. Alastair Urquhart says:

    As a boy in NE Scotland, I used to watch a Dipper along a small stream ( I called it a Burn back then) . It had a nest under a simple bridge. When I visit my home town, I always walk along the bank and have seen a dipper there over a period of perhaps 60 years.
    Unlike Leslie, I can still watch Dippers at Goldstream Park outside Victoria where they feast on salmon eggs.

  3. Trevor Goward says:

    What you report for Kootenay Lake – that Dippers seasonally leave the rushing streams for calmer waters – is a phenomenon we regularly observe also on our little Sky Pond. But with this difference: that here the shores are steep and stones scarce; so instead of wading, the Dippers take to swimming in open water – and diving for their supper like a duck. A joy to watch.

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