What is your favorite bird? This is a very difficult question to answer. I would even have difficulty identifying my top ten favorite birds. Clearly the Northern Goshawk, my study species, would be very high near the top of the list.
However, most of my favorites are context dependent. For example, I hold the Peregrine Falcon in uniquely high esteem as I believe it symbolizes hope. The Peregrine Falcon almost went extinct, but the world responded, reversed the trend, and populations have steadily recovered. So much so that the Peregrine Falcon was removed from the endangered species list. If we can do it for one, why not the others.
I also have a favorite Warbler, the Townsend's Warbler. This is a species I have seen in the field and have held in my hand. There is something about it's striking facial ornamentation that set it apart from the others, but not significantly so.
However, there is one species which is often forgotten until you see it in action - the American Dipper!
The American Dipper is an Idaho resident species which lives very near to mountain streams. They forage on the stream bottoms by diving under the water and grasping rocks on the bottom of the stream. They are able to do this year round by living near fast moving water which does not completly freeze over in winter. It is fascinating to watch them dive into the fast moving water in below zero temperatures!
During our trip to Yellowstone National Park this last week we met a retired physician from Whitefish Montana. He is a bird photographer and has even published books on the subject. He filled us in on the location of an American Dipper nest currently being built on the base of a bridge. We had to check it out. This video highlights part of the process and even includes synchronized "dipping" of the pair. Thanks again to Gene for the tip on the location!