Carbondale Citizens Mobilize for Aquatic Songbird

May 9, 2019

After a notable decline in the species' local presence, citizens of Carbondale seek to make the American Dipper its official town bird. KDNK's Raleigh Burleigh reports...

After a notable decline in the species' local presence, citizens of Carbondale seek to make the American Dipper its official town bird. KDNK's Raleigh Burleigh reports...

 

This weekend, Carbondale celebrates Dandelion Day. It's a festival that got its start by citizen concern for protecting this plant species. The dandelion is a powerful herbal medicine and important early food for local pollinators that is often sprayed with toxic herbicides for appearing unwanted. It was made Carbondale's town flower two decades ago to promote ecological awareness and deter spraying in town.

 

With similar motivation, a group of citizens stood before Carbondale's Environmental Board on April 22 to propose making the American Dipper Carbondale's official town bird.

 

The American Dipper, also called Ouzel, is the only aquatic songbird in the United States. It is also an indicator species, meaning that its presence signifies clean, unpolluted streams. Naturalist John Muir wrote of the Water-Ouzel, “He is a singularly joyous and lovable little fellow, about the size of a robin, clad in a plain waterproof suit of bluish gray, with a tinge of chocolate on the head and shoulders.”

As a “source-water state,” Colorado has until recently enjoyed a healthy population of American Dipper. An unexplained drop in dipper population is documented in the Second Breeding Bird Atlas of Colorado. In the summer of 2018, observers also noticed a summer absence of dippers along the Crystal River in Carbondale.

 

The appeal to make Carbondale an ally of the source-water songbird came with a suggestion to install simple wooden boxes beneath bridges to assist the species' in-town population.

 

Carbondale's Environmental Board expressed interest in assisting to realize a population survey and possibly as an advocate to the Board of Trustees for making the American Dipper Carbondale's official town bird.

 

Ouzel Song courtesy of Lisa Dancing Light.

American Dipper
Credit Courtesy Image