About a month ago I had a great encounter with an American Dipper. It started off with me getting a shot of it looking off into the distance at something that caught its eye. Notice the ice crystals on the legs! No big deal for a dipper!
Seconds later it was diving into the frigid waters and hunting down a fish. With water droplets beading off the feathers, it surfaced and started swimming towards me to the nearest bank. The fish squirmed back and forth but couldn’t break free from the tight grip on the tail. These fish are known as sticklebacks, aptly named for the multiple sharp spines that run along their backs. This didn’t seem to deter the dipper though. It managed to avoid the spines and once to shore the fish was quickly put out of its misery.
Water droplets fly as the dipper smacks the fish against the ice to kill it. Once dead, the bird took a brief break before it picked the fish up again and repeatedly smacked it against the ice. This continued for several minutes with the dipper slowly moving closer and closer to me. The only explanation I can think of for why it continued to hit the fish against the ice was that it needed to blunt the sharp large spines before it could swallow the fish whole.
At this point the dipper was a mere 5 feet from me. Almost like a house cat that brings a mouse back to show off its catch! This was the final shot before it gulped the fish down and dove back into the water for another. Such an amazing sequence to see and I continue to marvel at these unique birds!