Posted by: atowhee | March 4, 2022


My wife and I were at Silver Falls State Park this afternoon. Puffed clouds, cerulean (some sort of blue) sky, dark green conifers, sharp slanting sunlight. Recent rains had the falls roaring, mist filling the bowl beneath the falls, ferns and salal looking robust and eager to occupy all space possible. But beyond all that, above all that, sublime while not subliminal–the singing dipper at the swimming “beach” upstream on Silver Creek from South Falls.

I am going to let John Muir (from his essay “Water Ouzel”) describe to you the dipper’s song:

“What may be regarded as the separate songs of the Ouzel are exceedingly difficult of description, because they are so variable and at the same time so confluent. Though I have been acquainted with my favorite ten years, and during most of this time have heard him sing nearly every day, I still detect notes and strains that seem new to me. Nearly all of his music is sweet and tender, lapsing from his round breast like water over the smooth lip of a pool, then breaking farther on into a sparkling foam of melodious notes, which glow with subdued enthusiasm, yet without expressing much of the strong, gushing ecstasy of the bobolink or skylark.

“The more striking strains are perfect arabesques of melody, composed of a few full, round, mellow notes, embroidered with delicate trills which fade and melt in long slender cadences. In a general way his music is that of the streams refined and spiritualized. The deep booming notes of the falls are in it, the trills of rapids, the gurgling of margin eddies, the low whispering of level reaches, and the sweet tinkle of separate drops oozing from the ends of mosses and falling into tranquil pools.

“The Ouzel never sings in chorus with other birds, nor with his kind, but only with the streams. And like flowers that bloom beneath the surface of the ground, some of our favorite’s best song-blossoms never rise above the surface of the heavier music of the water. I have often observed him singing in the midst of beaten spray, his music completely buried beneath the water’s roar; yet I knew he was surely singing by his gestures and the movements of his bill.”

Muir spent much time observing and admiring dippers in Yosemite and along the Sierra.

Silver Falls SP, Marion, Oregon, US
Mar 4, 2022
6 species

Northern Flicker  12
Steller’s Jay  X
Common Raven  1
American Dipper  1
Varied Thrush  1
American Robin  5

I could use a volunteer van driver for a May field trip based on Malheur Field Station, you’d get free room & board and go on all birding trips, May 6-11. Contact me if interested. Cranes, Franklin’s Gulls, Swainson’s Hawks, Golden Eagles, White Pelicans, maybe Eastern Kingbird, (too early for Bobolink or nighthawk).

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