My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps

The Pied-billed Grebe is a small, shy grebe that prefers to dive rather than fly to escape danger.

Pied-billed Grebes rarely fly. They make a slow dive frequently, especially when in danger, diving to about 20 feet or less. They dive for about 30 seconds and may move to a more secluded area of the water, allowing only the head to be visible to watch the danger dissipate. This frequency in diving has earned them the description of being reclusive or shy in nature.

The Pied-billed Grebe is primarily found in ponds throughout the Americas. They are found in freshwater wetlands with emergent vegetation, such as cattails.

Pied-billed Grebes feed mainly on aquatic invertebrates, and also on small fish and amphibians (frogs, tadpoles). They dive to obtain food. This grebe does not have webbed feet. Its toes have lobes that come out of the side of each toe. These lobes allow for easy paddling.

Their bills allow them to crush crustaceans, like crawfish. They may also eat plants. They have been shown to eat their own feathers, like other grebes, to aid in digestion (prevent injury from small bones). They will also feed their feathers to their young.

They are extremely sensitive to disturbances, especially by humans. While breeding, if scared, adults may abandon their nests without protecting the eggs. The waves from boats can destroy the nests and their sounds easily frighten the birds.

On to the photos:

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

I am including a photo of a pie-billed grebe next to a Canada goose to give you an idea how small that these grebes are in relation to the goose, and I doubt that any one would mistake which is which in this photo.

Pied-billed Grebe and Canada goose for size reference

Pied-billed Grebe and Canada goose for size reference

This is number 40 in my photo life list, only 310 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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4 responses

  1. plantsamazeme

    Wow you are moving right along with your Photo Life List!
    The pie-billed grebe is a little cutie.
    I went to Aman Park today, NO Spring wildflowers, nice sunshine though!
    🙂

    February 25, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    • That must have been Sunday, it was a beautiful day. I went to Palmer Park to chase a Carolina wren around in hopes of better photos, I got one picture of its beak. It will be a month before the flowers start to show in Aman Park, that’s if the snow ever stops.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:43 am

  2. It sounds like this little bird goes to the same places I do.

    February 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    • Keep an eye out for them! They’re tricky little things, they may just poke their heads out of the water like a periscope to keep an eye on you.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:41 am