All In The Family

Watching American Dippers in Glacier National Park



Tim Rains

Subject: American Dipper, Glacier National Park

I didn’t understand at first what was going on. All summer long, I had been watching the American Dippers, small water birds, fly in and out of the waterfalls, where they nested and fed. Extremely brief encounters and flashes of black and slate gray. This one, however, up at Virginia Falls, was dancing. It would hop on one foot and then the other, moving its way up the rock. Every now and then it would open its mouth and turn around. It was joined by two others with similar behaviors. It wasn’t until I saw the mother fly in and feed them after one of the dances that I realized they were juveniles. They could barely fly, and were hungry.

I sat down and watched them for the better part of an hour, enjoying this rare treat. The mother made a few brief visits, almost seeming to scold them for not following her, while they danced around near the water’s edge. One of them became brave and popped in but quickly popped right back to the ledge they were hanging out on. Next time you are at a waterfall, wait and look around near the water’s edge to see if you can spy this popular small diving water bird.  

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About This Blog

An explorer, wanderer, photographer-artist, Tim Rains is a national park ranger seeking out connection and community to Montana’s wild places.  Come, explore with him as he discovers why Montana's glacier country is considered "the last best place." Follow Tim on Instagram @rangerrains or view more of his work at timrains.com

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