Wintertime and Pied-billed Grebes

Pied-billed Grebe in icy waterPied-billed Grebe in icy water – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

With the forecast of possible snow this week I’ve been thinking about how much fun it can be to photograph Pied-billed Grebes in the wintertime again. There is a pond not far from where I live in Salt Lake County that I like to go to during the winter because it is close, I can shoot outside of the confines of a mobile blind, I love the reflections there and when I am totally frozen it is only a quick drive home to get warm and have a hot cup of coffee. The pond doesn’t completely freeze over usually until mid January in a typical year so there are times I can get the images of the grebes with snow being reflected on the pond and with ice near my subjects. The Pied-billed Grebes move on when the pond is almost completely frozen over.

A Pied-billed Grebe and its wakeA Pied-billed Grebe and its wake – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Farmington Bay WMA is also another place I like to photograph Pied-billed Grebes during the winter. There are a few locations that stay ice-free for the most part and the Pied-billed Grebes often congregate there. When the sky is clear the reflections on the water can be pleasing and when a bunch of these tiny grebes get together there can be a lot of chasing…

A Pied-billed Grebe with prey being chase over a pondA Pied-billed Grebe with prey being chased over a pond – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

With or without prey. The Pied-billed Grebe in the image above was being chased by another grebe in an attempt to steal the fish (weather loach) from it. This happens quite frequently when the grebes are concentrated to one area and this type of action happens quickly so I always need to be on my toes to catch it.

Pied-billed Grebe flapping its wings on a cold January morningPied-billed Grebe flapping its wings on a cold January morning – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

During the winter the Pied-billed Grebes spend a lot of time either looking for food or resting but there are times when they preen, paddle around and on some days they spend quite a bit of time simply flapping their wings.  I’ve seen times where one Pied-billed starts flapping and before long they are all doing it. I’m not sure why they show that behavior but I love it when it happens except then I have to pick just one grebe to photograph and I would like to photograph them all. The day I took the image above I must have taken 300 images of these small grebes flapping their wings.

Life is good.



  1. Elephant's Child November 2, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    You and Ron have educated me. I knew that was a weather loach, before reading your commentary.
    Your water captures are as beautiful as the birds. Thank you.

  2. Patty Chadwick November 2, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Nice images…love water patterns in first, the casual-looking high speed motoring in the second, and the “what’s the flap all about” comment in the last. That loach looks like a pretty substantisl meal for a bird that size. I wonder how many they can stuff down before they feel full. It’s a good thing somebody eats them…they seem to multiply fast!

  3. Liz Cormack November 2, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Great shots!

  4. Bob mcpherson November 2, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Beautiful images, Mia.

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