Taking a Deep Dip: The Lives of North America’s Only Aquatic Songbird

Credit: Redbud Audubon Society

Redbud Audubon will present a fascinating program on Thursday, March 16, starting at 7 p.m. on Zoom with Kate Marianchild.

How many North American songbirds dive fearlessly into raging rapids? How many build large domeshaped nests of moss and flash bright-white eyelids from their dark interiors? How many forage for food on the bottoms of freezing cold streams? Answer: Only one—the American dipper, Cinclus mexicanus (aka “water ouzel”).

Acting on a tip from a friend, Kate Marianchild spent several afternoons during the summer of 2020 searching the upper reaches of the Russian River for a dipper nest. After finally finding a large mossy dome on a boulder ledge over thundering whitewater, she began observing, photographing, and videoing the nesting behaviors of American dippers, returning several times over the season.

The following two summers she documented another nest on a boulder several hundred yards downstream from the first. During her talk about this extraordinary species, Kate will show videos and photographs of dippers feeding their babies; flashing their semaphore-like eyes; singing exuberantly; dipping (bobbing up and down), foraging, and building a nest. She will also share sightings of other species she and her friends saw along the river, including an American mink, and borrowed underwater images of dippers doing what they are most famous for: foraging for food on river bottoms.

Please join me for a deep dip into the lives of the unique, fascinating, and endearing American dipper. This talk, which is based on Marianchild’s photos and videos of these birds and their nests over the past three breeding seasons, will also include an overview of the world’s four other dipper species.

Please register for the meeting by going to www.redbudaudubon.org and click on the registration link on the home page. After you register, the Zoom link for the program will be sent on the day of the presentation.

Kate Marianchild
Credit: Redbud Audubon Society
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