Western Grebe with a chick riding piggyback

Western Grebe with a chick riding piggybackWestern Grebe with a chick riding piggyback – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Cute Alert! Whenever I see Western Grebe chicks riding piggyback on their parents I can’t help thinking that there is a definite cute factor going on right in front of me. Bear River National Wildlife Refuge’s auto tour route in northern Utah is a great place to see Western and Clark’s Grebes during the breeding season. Early in the season the adults can be seen performing their mating rituals which includes a choreographed courtship display called rushing where both birds rise up, slap the water with their feet and rush across a body of water.

After the courtship, nest building and incubation the tiny grebe chicks are brooded on the backs of the adults for a period of 2 to 4 weeks. When the chicks are as young as the one shown above they bear little resemblance to the adults in coloration, instead of black and white they are a soft gray and downy with dark eyes and a stubby black bill.

Cute? You be the judge.


Additional posts you might enjoy:

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. very nice to get the picture with the chick on its back, i never go it with the grebes here, well done mia =))

  2. Well, I think this transcends “cute” and rises all the way to “adorable”. Great timing, composition and quality!

  3. Cute is the word. It’s also one of the most curious parental behaviours I’ve seen in birds.

  4. Very, very cute. And I love the reflections and the wave you have captured as well.
    I am always fascinated at how different chicks can be to the adult birds. When explorers first saw King Penguin chicks in their fluffy duffel coats they believed them to be a different species – and I am not surprised.

  5. Cute? BEYOND cute. Adorable. Nice set up for a little fluffy creature.

    Lovely shot. One of my favorite species. Caught the dance one year at a lake in San Diego county. Stunning.

  6. Now I wish I had been a grebe growing up! Must have been fun to have that disneyland ride around on mums back .. Yes very cute! Excellent shot

  7. Wonderful image! Can’t get any cuter. Reminds me of our loons…they carry their babies just like that…

  8. When was the photo taken, Mia? What’s their breeding season? Beautiful capture.

  9. Extremely Cute! What a proud looking parent. Thank you.

  10. Beautiful Grebe and chick, well taken.

Comments are closed