Water Ouzel

One of the best things about our annual Audubon chapter’s Lassen Park campout is that we get to see several species of mountain birds that we don’t normally see in the Sacramento Valley. I know for a certainty that I will be able to see one of my favorites, the American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), whenever I visit Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I call this bird the Water Ouzel because I like saying it – Water Ouzel. Click on photos for full sized images.

Water Ouzel

The American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic passerine, feeding on stream insects, insect larvae and sometimes other invertebrates, small fish, fish eggs, and flying insects. How many birds do you know that can fly underwater?

On the last day of our campout I wanted to see both the Mountain Bluebird and Cassin’s Finch before heading home, so I headed up to Bumpass Hell where both of these species can usually be spotted. I wasn’t disappointed. Not only did I find both species at the parking lot, I found a friend photographing some Marmots.


I mention this because my friend is the one who told me about the Dipper nest on Kings Creek. So, after photographing the Mountain Bluebirds, Cassin’s Finches, Marmots and Picas, I stopped at Kings Creek and found this beautiful Water Ouzel nest atop a log in the creek…


with four hungry nestlings.

Water Ouzel

I knew they had to be close to fledging the way they were sticking their heads out of the nest.


Plus the adults were feeding them every few minutes.


They were begging so loud when the parents came with food that you could hear them above the sound of the rushing creek!


More food!


We’re hungry!


I’m on the way!

Water Ouzel

Here I come!


Are you kids ever satisfied?


I shot this video of the adults feeding the nestlings at King’s Creek. Near the end of the video (2:05) you might catch one of the nestlings defecating out of the nest between two of its siblings.

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.