BirdNote: Why Dippers Dip

CURWOOD: We have a much more soothing kind of story now – the mystery of exactly why a familiar bird of the American west does what it does. Michael Stein has our BirdNote. [WATER RUSHING, SOUND OF CHIRPING] STEIN: An American Dipper calls across a rushing mountain stream. Its rotund, stone-gray body bobs rhythmically up and down, its feet firmly planted. The birds white-feathered eyelids flash like a semaphore. [CHIRPING AMERICAN DIPPER] American Dipper swimming with food. ( Tome Grey) So why do dippers dip? Lets consider three theories: One suggests the dippers repetitive bobbing against a background of turbulent water helps conceal the birds image from predators. A second asserts that dipping helps it sight prey beneath the surface of the water. A third theory holds the most promise. Dipping, as well as the rhythmic flicking of those flashy white eyelids, may be a mode of visual communication among American Dippers in their very noisy environment. That dippers make exaggerated dipping movements during courtship and also to threaten aggressors lends support to this theory. [WATER RUSHING IN MOUNTAIN STREAM] So if one day, as you muse alongside a mountain stream and an American Dipper bobs and winks in your direction, dont take it personally. Its probably beckoning to another dipper upstream. I'm Michael Stein. American Dipper ( Tom Grey) CURWOOD: There are photos of dipping dippers at our website, LOE.org. [birdnote.org/show/why-dippers-dip Written by Bob Sundstrom Song of the American Dipper and Riparian Zone Nature SFXs #119 and # 17 recorded by Gordon Hempton of QuietPlanet.com Some stream ambient recorded by C. Peterson Producer: John Kessler Executive Producer: Chris Peterson 2013 Tune In to Nature.org September 2013 Narrator: Michael Stein]

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