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 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.



  1. eric c11 October 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm

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

  2. Wally October 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm

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

  3. M. Firpi October 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm

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

  4. Steve Creek October 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Awesome Mia!

  5. Elephant's Child October 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    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.

  6. Beverly Everson October 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Very cute!

  7. biobabbler October 20, 2013 at 10:16 am

    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.

  8. Stu October 20, 2013 at 10:02 am

    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

  9. judy watson October 20, 2013 at 9:47 am


  10. patty chadwick October 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

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

  11. Montanagirl October 20, 2013 at 8:27 am

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

  12. Carroll Tarvin October 20, 2013 at 7:23 am

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

  13. John Randall October 20, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Wonderful Portrait !!

  14. Bob Bushell October 20, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Beautiful Grebe and chick, well taken.

Comments are closed.