I Love to Sing! (The Dipper Bird)

If you ever need a testimony to our wonderful Creator, call on me—I sing for Him! Every day. Fall, winter, spring, summer, I love to practice my high-pitched melodies: chirp, chirp, trrrrrrrrrrillll…chirp, chirp, trrrrrrrrrrillll… chirp, chirp, trrrrrrrrrrillll! (I’m only being modest when I tell you my Creator gave me a lovely voice.) In fact, on a cold winter day, mine may be the only bird song you hear.

But you may have to do some trekking to hear me. Yes, I like the mountains of southeast Alaska or Western Canada, where the air is clear and the rushing, turbid streams are sparkling and pure. Strange, I have a passion for pure water. If it becomes polluted, I move!

Why do I sing so much? When I tell you more about myself, you will realize I have a whole lot to sing about!

Do you want to know who I am? I belong to a plucky clan, they call us the “dippers.” Why? Because we are always “dipping.” with our legs, bobbing up and down, up and down, up and down, like a mechanical wind-up toy. And fast-like 40 to 60 times a minute. Wherever you see me, I’m bobbing. Standing on a rock in the middle of the stream, I’m bobbing. Why? People have done a lot of guessing, but… well, we say it’s a secret between our Great Creator and us.

I have several modes of travel. I can walk, or fly, or dive. I especially like to walk on the streambed, completely submerged, or skim just above the surface of the water, then suddenly dive into foaming eddies. The water is my first love—probably because most of the things I like to eat live there. But it must be moving swiftly. No still, placid waters for me!

You see, my Creator gave me just the right equipment to navigate the shallow, rushing streams. Even my toes are just right. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but they are not webbed but elongated, with sharp claws, just right for gripping the rocks in the stream. In fact, I have to grip the rocks when I am under water—or I would bob right up to the top! And if there are any fish eggs or larva hidden under a rock, I have just the right kind of beak to reach under the rock and suck them up. Yum yummmm!

I imagine you like to swim, and maybe some of you even like to dive. Now may I ask: do you ever get water in your nose when you dive? Well, I don’t, because my Creator designed me with nasal flaps. I don’t even have to think about it. When I dive, the flaps cover my nostrils so that no water enters my air passages. Isn’t that pretty wonderful?

And do you know how I swim under water? Again, I must sing to my Creator. He designed my wings to lift me into the air, or I can open them part way and they become powerful flappers propelling me through the water.

I expect, too, that when you swim underwater, you like to open your eyes. I do also. In fact, I have to see if I am going to find food—which is my reason for swimming underwater. Well, here again I feel like singing the praises of my wonderful Creator. He designed me with a third eyelid that has a clear lens in it. When I use that third eyelid, my eye is “closed,” yet I can see! You don’t believe it? Yes, I can see when my eyes are fully protected from the water. Isn’t that amazing? But don’t give me any credit-this is the work of my wonderful Designer!

Suppose I’m under water, and I need more oxygen. Again, my Designer thought of this need. I can actually block the blood supply (don’t think I learned it on my own!) to my non-vital tissues. This way I have extra red blood cells to supply me with stored oxygen. All I have to do is need it—and there it is!

Now when you go swimming, you put on special clothes that shed water easily. What do I do? Imagine if my thick coat of feathers got soaked every time I went for a swim!

Wouldn’t I be a sorry sight? I would have to spend most of my time lying on a rock, trying to dry out! And in the winter… I’d freeze to death! Well, my Creator thought of this in advance and made a way for me to waterproof myself! Yes, I have a large gland above my tail that makes oil. In fact, He gave me ten times more oil than the average songbird my size! Every little while I spread this oil over my “outer garment,” and—I’m waterproofed! It’s another reason to keep on singing His praise! Chirp, chirp, trrrrrrrrrrrrrill!

Now if I guess right, when you go swimming you like the water to be fairly warm. Well, that’s a luxury we dippers don’t have in the high altitudes of the north. Most of our swimming is in very, very cold—even ic—water. I can hear you say “Brrrrrrr!” Well, here again I feel like singing. My awesome Designer made me weatherproof as well as waterproof. Underneath my heavy outer plumage I have a thick, comfy layer of down, similar to that of the ducks, to insulate me against the cold. Wasn’t that thoughtful of Him? And when it gets really cold— like 40 degrees below zero-I can speed up my body metabolism rate by as much as 300%! (That’s like turning up the furnace.) So, even when it’s the coldest, I am still warm and cozy inside. Pretty wonderful, isn’t it?

When it comes time to build the nest, both of us (my husband and I) work together. Have you ever seen one of my nests? I challenge you to find one without risking your neck (I’ve heard that some people have). We intend to keep our nests totally hidden and inaccessible—like up under overhanging rocks or roots on the edge of a cliff, or up under a bridge, or in behind a waterfall. Yes, we believe in “safety first”!

For materials we use moss and grass. The finished nest is large, about a foot in diameter. We take turns sitting on the eggs, and when it comes time to feed the little chicks, again we work together. Even the chicks cooperate. Each little chick comes forward to get its food and after it is fed, retreats to the back of the nest, allowing the next one to come forward. Yes, we believe in working together.

What do we like to eat? We like minnows, larvae, insects, and such. One of my favorite foods is salmon eggs. Now we have been accused of damaging the salmon population. But my Creator knew better than that. He arranged that we eat the salmon eggs which will not hatch anyway. Maybe He even provided them special for us!

So what do you think? Shouldn’t I go on singing, singing, singing every day, all winter long? Of course I should. And so should you. The same Designer who made me has a lot more for you. Why not praise Him! Chirp, chirp, trrrrrrrrrrrill! Chirp, chirp, trrrrrrrrrrrill!

Sources of Information
Central Pets.Com
Sicamous.Com (Site No Longer Available)
The Canadian Biodiversity Website