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Posted by: atowhee | April 19, 2018

DIPPERS–UNDAMPENED DETERMINATION

Mid-day I went out to check on the dipper nest along Baker Creek.  Busy, busy, busy.  An adult bird brought food to three anxious, squealing young twice in thirty seconds.  One of the young was facing out the nest hole when I arrived, anticipating.  This is the twelfth day since I found the nest.  Countdown to fledging at some unknown future date,  but probably before the end of this month.

Waiting out front:out frontWAITINGCan we agree to call this one “double dipper?”double dipperAdult arrives just upstream with meal in mouth.  Stream now exposing some rocks, making approach easier.dipp-mawdipp-maw2What’s in the maw, ma?dipp-maw3To the nest, note in images #3 through #5 you see all three nestling gapes, bright yellow when opened.contact1contact2contact3contact4contact5contact6contaCT7After the feeding ends, the squeals linger on.  A high, grating series of calls.GGOD-BYscreamscream2The same adult stops briefly along the creek, downstream, then abruptly returns to the nest, perhaps with another morsel.DIPP INDIPP IN2DIPP IN3DIPP IN4DIPP IN5All this action took place in less than fives minutes.  Note in the background of final images the miniature rainforest growing–fern fiddleheads and this year’s horsetails.

For a songbird of this size the dipper is slow to mature as a nestling.  They must be fully feathered and waterproof when they leave the nest.  That means roughly double the number of feathers a similar-sized towhee or bluebird would need to fledge.  That takes protein and time.  Also they have much more hemoglobin in the blood for high oxygen carriage and metabolic production of body heat.  They must swim in, be insulated from and not be sickened by very cold water soon after leaving their warm, mossy nest.

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