Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adaptable Am Dipper in Salida

I wanted to share two final pics of American Dippers I took last week-end. This shows an American Dipper I found in Salida that adapted to it's situation. The bridge where it is nesting is curved on the underside and has no walls perpendicular to the water on which to firmly attach a nest so this bird built it's nest in a crack in the bridge where some of the cement has fallen apart. Since there is a lot of kayaking under this bridge and a walking trail under one sde, it is also best that the nest is in the nest is in the center where it has some protection.
The second pic is just an enlargement of the top pic showing the dipper with the nest above it (where the arrow points). I took pic of nest from about 75 feet away, again handheld.
The bottom pic shows this American Dipper from a closer perspective. Check out it's toenails! This pic will enlarge for a good close-up view of the eye and toes, just double-click on it. It flew in to forage along the rocks near me and was 10-15 feet away when I got this pic (again handheld). The third eyelid is almost closed in this pic as the bird has just come out of the water with an insect in its bill that it took to apparent nestlings--I was too far away, the water and people too loud for me to hear nestlings as I did at the Coaldale area nest. SeEtta

Close views of parent Am Dippers

These are pics of one (or possibly both) parent birds in the prior post. The top pic shows the parent bringing a small insect to the nestlings. Notice the small drops of water on it's plumage, a demonstration of how well their feathers are waterproofed by oils from the preen gland.
The second pic is an enlargement of the first pic so that it shows clearly it's third eyelid, a white one, called a nictitating membrane "which acts as a windshield wiper when underwater" per the Smithsonian Zoological Park website.
I took the third pic as the dipper was starting to "dip" into the water. The fourth pic is an enlargement of the third pic that shows the dipper's eye and bill quite nicely.
The bird(s) in these pics was about 10 feet away; but I didn't approach it that close, it flew in as I stood as motionless as possible. Like the pics in the prior post, these are all hand held without the benefit of image stabilization as it is not available on my 400mm lens. I do shoot at fairly fast speeds to compensate but I also have to hold the camera very still to get good results. SeEtta

American Dipper & nestlings

Over the week-end I birded my way to Salida through the Big Horn Sheep Canyon from my home in Canon City. The Arkansas River flows through this Canyon and there are several locations where I stop to look for nesting American Dippers.
As I stood looking at an obvious American Dipper nest under a bridge in the Coaldale area, a parent dipper flew in with food and I got the first photo that shows the fledgling peeking out after the parent bird left.
The second photo is just an enlargement of the first photo and it shows the fledgling dipper better. It's bill is clear while the outline of it's head can be discerned. A little of it's left eye can barely be seen but it's right eye is more visible. and almost looks reddish with a hint of yellow.

One of the parent birds returned while I was still standing under the bridge where the nest was located and I got the bottom two pics of it at the nest with a nestling visible. In the fourth pic, which is just an enlargement of the third pic, the bill and left eye of the fledgling is viewable. By double-clicking to enlarge that pic, the fledgling's eye can be seen as yellow which is consistent with what online states about fledglings at day 17 (after hatching).

Please note all pics are enlarged by cropping. I was standing about 18 feet from the nest and used my 400 mm lens to get these shots. I was a little closer to the adult but that is because it flew in and landed on a rock maybe 12 feet from me (always better for a bird to fly close to you). Due to the darkness under the bridge I did use a flash, which I rarely use with birds as clearly some flinch at a flash (these birds did not exhibit flinching or I would have stopped taking these pics). I stayed less than 10 minutes to reduce any disruption to these dippers. As my lens does not have image stabilization I shoot at fast speeds but still have to hold the camera quite still to get good results. SeEtta

Take action to help songbirds


From American Bird Conservancy: "We need your help to dramatically increase funding available for the conservation of migratory birds. Please can you Act for Songbirds today?

A bill has been introduced in the Senate and a companion bill in the House, to reauthorize the existing Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act at significantly higher levels. By sending a message to your Senators and Representative, you can ensure that both bills pass for the benefit of birds.

Thanks to these bipartisan bills in the Senate and House, funding could be dramatically increased from the current authorized level of $6 million to $20 million. All grants made by this Act must be matched by other funds at a ratio of 3:1, meaning every one tax-payer dollar from the Act leverages three from private sources. Overall, the program could result in some $60 million in additional funding for bird conservation!

You can make a difference! Using our automated action center, you can quickly and easily send a message to your Senators and Representative asking them to support these bills.

This is the one simple thing everyone can do for birds.
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Thanks for helping the birds we all enjoy. SeEtta