After the fish…….

Life goes on – and nature has it’s ways.  Everything has a purpose for all species – except for us humans, who have selfishly determined that we are better than any other animal and have turned the natural order of things on their head!  Apparently we think the laws of nature don’t apply to us.  But I digress……………….   🙂

After the fish have done their thing, they die, decompose and become nutrients for not only creek organisms, but all sorts of fauna and flora in the environment. Do you know that certain nitrogen elements from returning oceanic salmonids have been found in trees and plants many kilometres from any creek or river?  The Pacific Salmon is one of the key species on this planet. The nutrients they give back to the earth sustain life on this planet far more than anyone would ordinarily think.

One such benefactor of the returning salmon is a little bird called the American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus).  And his favourite food is salmon eggs!  You’ll see him in rivers, streams and creeks in prolific numbers when salmon return home to spawn. They’ll be seen on rocks in the water, with their characteristic ‘bobbing’ action.  They will look for salmon ‘redds’ and any stray eggs that may have been washed downstream.  They can also be seen underwater, either ‘walking’ along the bottom or ‘flying’ underwater!

Here’s an excerpt from the American Dipper page on the website:

Feeding behaviour Most food is caught underwater. The Dipper may walk with only its head submerged, or may dive, “flying” underwater and walking on the bottom, probing under stones in streambed. Also will swim on surface to pick up floating insects. Occasionally takes insects from streamside rocks, rarely makes short flights to catch insects in mid-air

DietMostly aquatic insects. Feeds on many kinds of aquatic insects, including larvae of caddisflies, mayflies, beetles, bugs, and mosquitoes, as well as adults of these insects and many others; also some worms and snails. Also eats fish eggs and very small fish (less than 3″ long)

Below are some local Noons Creek photos of the American Dipper.  He’s quite entertaining to watch, so if you get the chance, just stand back and enjoy for a while.  Also included is a short video of one of our local Dippers.

American Dipper video #1  (video will open in new window; please give it a few moments to load)  Watch at about the 2 minute 30 second mark as he scores a salmon egg, then proceeds to drop it several times, but each time he recovers to finally enjoy his catch!

American Dipper video #2  (video will open in new window; please give it a few moments to load)


Photo and video credits to volunteer Aude Bertoncello.

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