[Tweeters] Spokane Falls Dippers

plkoyama at comcast.net plkoyama at comcast.net
Sun Mar 16 11:18:31 PDT 2014

David and I returned last night from a 4 day E WA county birding trip with Paul and Barbara Webster. A trip report will eventually follow, but a thrilling sighting occurred late afternoon Thursday , 3/13, when the we were showing off Spokane Falls to the Websters, who had never seen this amazing part of downtown. The Falls were absolutely roiling, higher than I had ever seen them, having lived in Spokane for a few months after Wazzu graduation in the late 60’s, and occasionally visiting David’s parents there after his dad’s military retirement. The paper reported that the river was so high that parts of the Centennial Trail were flooded.

We had viewed the Falls from the lower view points and decided to cross the street overlooking the river, where Barbara called out that 3 American Dippers were flying across the river. Two of them landed on a rock on the west side of the river and at least one was washed off by a big wave. We then saw them fly to a big rock formation near the pedestrian bridge across the way, so we walked over and relocated the pair calmly feeding on a ledge just above water level. We knew dippers preferred swift waters, but this was ridiculous!! Our respect for these little birds (who were, perhaps, chasing off an interloper, since we never saw the third bird again) quadrupled. One of the birds flew over towards the Washington Water Power Bldg., but when we left, the second was still on the mid-river rock formation where the river split around it.

Perhaps a Spokane local birder could tell us if these birds are common at the Falls—they are a Code 2 bird for the county. If so, they may have just seemed so spectacular with the river churning as it is this week. But we were truly awed by these dippers, going about their business in what looked like a death trap!

Penny Koyama, Bothell
plkoyama at comcast dot net

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