Several grebe species live in our area. Earlier I shared some musings about the eared grebe – a cute little fellow. The pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) is a year-round resident of local lakes and ponds. It can be found throughout North America, except in the Arctic regions, Central America and portions of South America.
This small diving bird has a brown head and body, thick bill and tufted white rump. During the breeding season there is a wide, medial ring around the bill and the throat is black. Although it swims like a duck the pied-billed grebe does not have webbed feet. Instead, lobes extending from the sides of each toe provide extra surface for paddling.
Pied-billed grebes can fly and some do migrate, however when threatened they generally prefer to sink into the water until their head is covered. They dive underwater for food – mainly eating fish, aquatic insects and crustaceans, particularly crayfish.
I hope to get some pictures of pied-billed grebe chicks to share in a later post. They are striped and climb onto their mother’s back for safely.
These grebes were photographed at Baum Lake (Shasta County CA). In the one picture the white rump is visible and in another the grebe is partially submerged as it sinks into the water. The black rings around the bills are developed to differing degrees since it is the beginning of the breeding season.