Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Picture of Science! American Dipper

I have far too many good nature/animal photos with no particular outlet, so I'm starting a new series here, which I call "Picture of Science!" even though most are pictures of nature, and not of science. Our first photo in the series is of an American Dipper.

Click photo for larger image.

I took this this past weekend at Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The wind and the overhanging trees made fantastic patterns on the water. The dipper was kind enough to stand in front of a relatively smooth spot where it's reflection would come through.

Dippers dip in two ways. First, they frequently bob from front to back to front to back, dipping their tail and belly feathers in the water as they do. Second, and more surprising, they will go completely underwater, walk along the bottom of a mountain stream or pond, and pick insect larvae as they go. They have clear nictitating membranes that act as dive goggles, and they have special movable scales that keep water out of their nostrils. Their numerous other adaptations for walking on the bottom of water bodies make them truely remarkable birds. They are sensitvie to degridation in water quality and have become rare through much of their range.

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