In Pursuit of American Dippers

American Dipper_ElevenmileCyn-CO_LAH_5966-001 My husband really loves me. One reason I know this is because we spent Valentine’s Day looking for birds. Since he’s not a birder, this was a special gift indeed… although he did bring a book to read.

One of the advantages of living next to the Rocky Mountains is the presence of a fascinating bird—the American Dipper. This is the only aquatic songbird species in North America, found solely along rushing mountain streams. The birds actually “fly” underwater (think of penguins) in pursuit of the insects and other small animals that make up their diet.

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Eleven Mile Canyon

ElevenMileCyn-CO_LAH_6015It was cold. Really cold. The car thermometer read -3 (yes, that’s a minus sign) and the wind was howling. That’s what you get when you’re birding at 8,500 feet in the Rocky Mountains at the end of December. Despite four layers of winter clothing, knit hat plus fleece-lined hood, and gloves, I was shivering—and having a tremendous time!

Eight of us set off last Saturday morning for Eleven Mile Canyon, on the west side of Pikes Peak. It was all of 4 degrees as I pulled out of my driveway north of Colorado Springs, but it was early, the sun was out, and I figured it would warm up. So much for being optimistic.

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