Hitching a Ride – Grebe Chicks

Grebe chicks are showing up all over at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (aka Bear River National Wildlife Refuge) in northern Utah and they are just adorable to see and photograph.

Western Grebe FamilyWestern Grebe Family – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I have been seeing Clark’s, Pied-billed and Western Grebes with chicks but I haven’t gotten any close images of the Pied-billed Grebes with their young so I am focusing on Western and Clark’s Grebe images for this post.

Young Western and Clark’s Grebes hitch rides on their parents backs, the image above shows a Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) with three chicks of different sizes. The eggs of Western and Clark’s Grebes do not hatch all at the same time so there are often several days between the oldest and youngest chicks. The chick at the tail end of the adult was larger than the other two birds.

Clark's Grebe with a chickClark’s Grebe with a chick – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

There is only one chick visible on this adult Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) back but there could be more underneath the wings. When the grebe chicks are very young it can be difficult to see them because they hide under the feathers, sometimes the only way to know there are tiny young birds on the back of the adults is that the wings feathers are usually raised higher than they normally would be.

I’ll be doing more posts soon on Western and Clark’s Grebes.


* I am out of town so I scheduled this post ahead of time, please feel free to share.

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Awesome shots Mia! I surely hope I happen upon a scene like this someday! It is so precious!

  2. These photos are so adorable I can hardly stand it! Just wonderful. :-)

  3. Wonderful, what fascinating behavior, would love to see it some time. Beautiful captures Mia:)

  4. Beautiful and wonderful, Mia. I can’t add much more than what the others said.

  5. Lovely images, Mia! Must be really awesome to see/photograph such an experience!

  6. Amazing photos Mia, just stunning! What a sight to see!

  7. Absolutely marvelous. Such gorgeous shots of one of nature’s more adorable parental behaviors : )

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