As I mentioned yesterday, fish comprise a large part of a pied-billed grebe’s diet. Not long ago I noticed one of these small grebes struggling with a fish it caught. I was not going to post these pictures and mention the pied-bill grebe’s dinner, because the photos are not very good. Unfortunately the grebe was too far away for my old 200 mm lens to capture the action clearly (budgets!). Yet how it ate the fish is interesting and I am still thinking pied-billed grebe. . .
I noticed a slight movement across Baum Lake – a pied bill grebe with a fish in its mouth. The first photo was taken at 11:49:29 AM, a few seconds after the grebe surfaced with its fish. The fish, most likely a small trout, was aligned perpendicular to the grebe’s body. For almost a minute and a half the grebe struggled with the fish, lifting it in the air and maneuvering it around. At first the fish struggled, but eventually it seemed to stop resisting. The grebe finally worked the head into its mouth and by lifting its head and stretching its neck about three times was able to get the fish down its throat in as many stages. I did not realize a grebe could actually swallow such a large fish. I snapped the final picture in this series at 11:51:04. The white tufted tail, a good field mark for the pied-billed grebe, is visible in several of the pictures.
Pied billed grebes are rather “tame” compared to many of the other waterfowl and will often swim quite close to humans. Maybe next time the pied-billed grebe will have its lunch just a bit closer and provide a better photo op.