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

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

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.

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

The black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), known in North America as the eared grebe, is a member of the grebe family of water birds. It occurs on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

The black-necked grebe is 28–34 centimetres (11–13 in) long. The adult is unmistakable in summer, with a black head and neck and yellow ear tufts. In winter, this small grebe is white with a poorly defined black cap, which distinguishes it from the crisper-looking Slavonian grebe (horned grebe in America).

This species breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes across Europe, Asia, Africa, northern South America and the southwest and western United States. The North American subspecies, P. n. californicus, is known as the eared grebe (or “eared diver”). These birds migrate in winter, mostly to the Pacific Coast where they range south to El Salvador on a regular basis; vagrants may occur as far as Costa Rica.

The black-necked grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its prey underwater, eating mostly fish as well as small crustaceans, aquatic insects and larvae. It prefers to escape danger by diving rather than flying, although it can easily rise from the water.

Like all grebes, the black-necked grebe nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set very far back and it cannot walk well. Usually two eggs are laid, and the striped young are sometimes carried on the adult’s back.

The black-necked grebe is essentially flightless for most of the year (9 to 10 months), and is one of the most inefficient fliers among avifauna. Generally, it avoids flying at all costs and reserves long-distance flight exclusively for migration. However, when migrating, it will travel as much as 6,000 km (3,700 mi) to reach prosperous areas that are exploited by few other species.

 

On to my photos:

These photos were shot at the Muskegon wastewater facility back in June of 2015.

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

 

Female Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

Female Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

 

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis pair

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis pair

 

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis pair

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis pair

 

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

 

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

 

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

 

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

 

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

Male Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis

 

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis pair

Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis pair

This is number 191 in my photo life list, only 159 to go!

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

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20 responses

  1. An interesting bird to add to your collection.

    March 28, 2016 at 4:52 am

    • Thank you very much Susan!

      March 28, 2016 at 7:45 am

  2. That’s an unusual looking bird. I like the “ears.”

    March 28, 2016 at 4:56 am

    • Thank you very much Allen!

      March 28, 2016 at 7:45 am

  3. Fascinating bird!

    March 28, 2016 at 7:04 am

    • Thank you very much Bob!

      March 28, 2016 at 7:46 am

  4. Great shots of the Eared Grebe, one that I haven’t seen yet! I am amazed at how you were able to capture such detailed photos. When I photograph a bird or duck that’s dark or black, I often get a big blob of darkness where no or few features stand out. 😦

    March 28, 2016 at 7:45 am

    • Thank you very much! When I’m photographing birds and wildlife, I use partial spot metering 99% of the time and keep the spot on the subject so that they are exposed correctly. Then, I”l fix the background as best I can in Lightroom. The only time I change from that is when I’ve switched focusing points and the subject is no longer in the center of the frame.

      March 28, 2016 at 7:51 am

  5. Really crazy looking bird but rather cute too! We get Black-necked Grebe overwintering near here.

    March 28, 2016 at 7:47 am

    • Thank you very much Clare! All the grebes look so much different in their breeding plumage than their winter, I have a hard time telling them apart then.

      March 28, 2016 at 7:54 am

  6. As my dad would have said, “What an odd duck”. I thought it was interesting that it’s not ble to walk very well because its legs are set so fast back. Have you seen one out of water? Is it really noticeable? Good post.

    March 28, 2016 at 10:37 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! No, I have never seen one of these out of the water. Both the loon and grebe families have their legs set very far back on their body as that makes them better swimmers. I have seen both horned and pie-billed grebes out of the water, just out of the water. Close enough so that they can fall towards the water and scoot along on their bellies until they float in the water enough to swim.

      March 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm

  7. Those Grebes are quite striking with those red eyes. Great shots, Jerry! Nature certainly comes up with some interesting and beautiful creatures.

    March 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! These are certainly striking birds.

      March 28, 2016 at 11:23 pm

  8. Interesting as ever.

    March 28, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom!

      March 28, 2016 at 11:18 pm

  9. Such beautiful eyes captured in your brilliant photos of the Grebe. Our ‘British’ Great Crested Grebes bob their heads side to side and duck up and down in their courtship routine- do these grebes have the same fascinating ritual?

    March 29, 2016 at 10:08 am

    • Thank you very much! I’ve never seen any of the species of grebe’s mating displays, but I would assume that they are similar to your great crested grebe as most waterfowl have similar behavior.

      March 29, 2016 at 2:32 pm

  10. As others have already said, the eye colour of these grebes is beautiful. I also like the attractive feathering on the face. Excellent shots, Jerry. It’s taken me ages to get a clear shot of the Australasian Grebe. They have bright yellow eyes. I really like grebes but the ones I try and photograph spend so much time underwater, and then they surface in a totally different spot, there is not much time to focus! I assume yours are the same? 🙂

    March 30, 2016 at 11:31 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! Yes, our grebes behave exactly like your Australian grebes, you have to be quick when they surface, and they can move a long way in a short time under water when they want to.

      March 30, 2016 at 1:46 pm