Creature Feature: American Dipper

Dippers, or “water ouzels” are the only aquatic songbirds in North America. They forage for microorganisms in streams and rivers by walking under the water.

Dippers have evolved features to help them survive in the water. They have secondary eyelids that let them see underwater, and scales that close over their nostrils when they dive. They also produce more oil than other birds, which helps their feathers keep them warm in cold water.

Dippers are an indicator species. This means that their presence indicates that the river they live on is good, healthy habitat. Have you seen a dipper in Humboldt county?

Photos: Frank D. Lospalluto and Michael Klotz on Flickr