SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Singing American Dippers

I'm still pretty limited in my birding forays as my knee, which is getting better, is still swollen and sore. I looked unsuccessfully for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Lakeview Cemetery and then went to the Abbey to look for the Red-naped Sapsucker. I ran into a birder from Colo Springs who had also not found the Lakeview bird. She and I looked unsuccessfully for the Abbey Red-naped. I am still leaving the Centennial Park Yellow-bellied Sapsucker alone as it had become so distressed the last time I was there, but the other birder had seen this bird this morning and she remarked that it was unusually shy. Unfortunately, as there are fewer pine trees in that location, it is the easiest sapsucker to find that sapsucker and most birders have been pursuing it.

This evening at dusk I enjoyed a chase by 3 American Dippers along the Arkansas River just east of Canon City. As has been my experience, American Dippers tend to get invigorated at dawn and dusk, engaging in chasing each other or even just flying around sometimes near humans. They also sing during these times, a real respite in Colorado wintertime. They are among the few bird species that sing in winter (though Birds of North Americasays they sing only sporadically in mid-winter, I hear them more frequently) here and they sing as sweet as songbirds.

It is unusual in my experience to have 3 birds in one location. Often a pair will maintain a winter territory on streams that do not freeze, like the Arkansas River her, but otherwise these birds are solitary. So I not sure if the third bird is an interloper or possibly an adult child of the other two. The chasing behavior of American Dippers can be either antagonistic to chase off a competitor or it can be part of courtship displays.

It was too dark to get a photo of the birds tonight, though I tried. I took this photo of an American Dipper last summer. This bird has a wormlike object in it's bill which can be seen clearly by double-clicking on the photo.

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