Go West, Young Grebe, Go West

Continuing the Greberrific theme from last post, I bring you a semi-new bird from Australia.  Just kidding, this one came from our trip to Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve just like all the other birds over the last couple of months.  Fact is this bird doesn’t stray far from Canada through lower Baja) .  What can I say, the shutter was quite the workhorse those two days (and yes, we are still posting from the first day’s discoveries).   In a slight deviation from the long list of Henderson birds that came before it, this one is “technically” not a new bird to the Blog and it did have a check mark in the Bird List.  Truth is, the previous mark was written in lightly due to the weak shot I was able to capture.  The original pictures can be found back in 2010 from a trip to Yellowstone (link here).  You can tell it is a bird and if you squint a lot you can discern it is indeed a Western Grebe (or a Clark’s since the pixilation makes it hard to tell if the black goes above or below the eye).  Compare that with this:

Now that is an official Western Grebe check mark.  I really like this bird for a number of reasons two of which is the sleek profile and the cool coloring.  The red eye and the deadly looking bill give a nice finishing touch to the overall appearance of this bird.  A bill that could inflict some serious damage when paired with wing propulsion.  Similar to the Eared Grebe from the post before, they are reluctant fliers – damn you winged creatures that prefer to float on the water.  According to the Stokes guide they can even one up us on the water by being able to run on the top during their takeoffs or courtships.  Sorry folks, no shots of that while we were there.

Hit the jump to read more about this cool Grebe

According to our friends over at Wikipedia, the Western is the largest of the North American Grebes weighing in the 1 to 4 pound range.  Hard to tell since they are not in relationship to each other in the pictures, but the Eared Grebe from the previous post was definitely smaller (but credit to the Eared Grebe who actually doubles it own weight in the fall staging times – the piglet).  Their courtship must be one entertaining display – they’ll raise up out of the water and dance along the top.  Those Grebe chicks really bust their suitors ass making them walk on water just to go out with them.  Now, I may not have a picture of them dancing on the water, but I do have this interesting behavior captured.

This scene cracks me up every time I look at it – clearly mocking us stupid humans that can neither fly nor walk on the water.    Does this gain the attention of the chick (assuming) in the shot?  NOOOOOO because she’s used to being courted by males who can WALK ON WATER (Jesus must have been a chick magnet).  Guessing this is how they got their group name of Water Dances.  Wait a minute… what do we have here … yes folks, this one is taking it to the next level.

Yea, that didn’t seem to get much attention either.  Give the Grebe an A for effort (an A+ if he could have spit water out like a fountain).  Just to end with a few more interesting facts, these birds are full on divers choosing to feast on carp, herrings, salamanders, crabs etc.  The references did not indicate if they stab them with their pointy spears.  Wait a minute.  Just found this description over at AllAboutBirds.org “They either spear prey or capture it with a forceps-like motion of the bill”.   There you go, my assumption was right.  Like the Eared Grebe their legs are attached “at their anus” per the old world translation making them poor walkers.  Other than that, all I have to offer is they have a Conservation Status of Least Concern.  A relief having thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them.

That’s all folks – see ya soon (and might even give you a quick break from birds)

2 thoughts on “Go West, Young Grebe, Go West”

  1. Wow, a second Grebe post before I had time to comment on the first!

    I’ve never heard of a Grebe (nor that salamanders can live underwater–I was ready to pounce on that until I Wikipedia’d it). Just what is this Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, anyway? It’s like a bird museum! Are you sure these aren’t animatronic, and the one in the last two shots hasn’t just gone haywire because the circuits got wet?

    Weird birds. But cool, thanks. I learn something new at least 6 times a month.

    Ron

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  2. I told you it was Greberrific around here at LifeIntrigued!. Actually since the research kept referencing the two birds I figured it was easier to just get them out of the way at the same time. I didn’t know you were scrutinizing my posts so much – need to make sure I’m diligent in my facts – want to be careful I don’t get pounced! It is like a bird museum – at least for me and my Check List. This is why it is so tough to figure out which I liked better, the lagoon in Florida or this sweet spot in Henderson.

    I immediately thought of the Westworld movie in your animatronics comment. Unless that coyote likes gnawing on metal I can definitely say these birds are real although that one duck wearing the gun holster did look a little suspicious.

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