The Water Ouzel
The Water Ouzel, also known as the American Dipper (scientific name: Cinclus Mexicanus), is found in hilly and mountainous regions across North America where there are clear, fast-flowing rivers and streams. With the benefit of several unique adaptations such as an inner protective eyelid and an extra layer of downy feathers, the ouzel dives into cold, often turbulent rivers and streams, swimming, and "planing" along the bottow as it hunts for insects, nymphs and other small animals. When on shore, it has a custom of “dipping” that easily distinguishes it from any other bird along the river. The Ouzel is most often found by itself; rarely in pairs, except during the breeding season, and very rarely in threes or fours.
The Ouzel's nest is one of the most extraordinary pieces of bird architecture. It is typically large, made of moss and ferns, and usually found under or beneath a waterfall, or upon a slick rock face where it is almost impossible for anything to reach it. The moss continues to grow as it is continually sprinkled with water, and provides a comfortable, cushy place for the bird to nest.
As North America's only aquatic songbird, the Ouzel possesses a strong sweet song, composed of a variety of trills and flute-like notes that sometimes abruptly end as the bird enters the river to feed. Upon returning to the surface, the Ouzel seemingly picks up right where it left off without so much as skipping a beat.
The following is a short but extremely well made video segment featuring the Water Ouzel. Produced by Oregon Field Guide in 1995.
"The Ouzel alone of all birds, dares to enter a white torrent." - John Muir (1907)