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 Refuges 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.

This Western Grebe with a chick riding piggyback image is enchanting and visually appealing to me.

Cute? You be the judge.