Western Grebes are well known for back-brooding their young and that begins immediately after they hatch and continues until they are several weeks in age. Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is a great location to consistently see back-brooding Western Grebes during the breeding season and it can be done easily from the auto tour loop.
As I write this it is probably too early to see back-brooding Western or Clark’s Grebes back-brooding at the refuge but it won’t be long before we will all see the young taking piggyback rides on their parents backs. Both parents brood their young in this manner and the non-brooding parent spends a lot of time catching prey and bringing it to their young.
The juvenile grebes climb up the backs of the adults from behind and them move forward until they are close to the adult’s neck. The parents can even make shallow dives with the juveniles on their backs but more often than not they shake their young off of their backs before diving.
I’ve seen very large chicks climb up on the back of adults both at the Bear River refuge and at Farmington Bay WMA over the years that I have lived in Utah but I think I am fondest of seeing the tiny chicks with just their heads sticking out of the feathers on the adult’s back. They make my “cute” alert go off!
I wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and to moms everywhere whether they are biological moms or adoptive moms and to moms of our four-legged families too.
Life is good.