A Western Grebe back-brooding large chickA Western Grebe back-brooding large chick – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

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.

Western Grebe back-brooding two chicksWestern Grebe back-brooding two chicks – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

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.

Back-brooding Western GrebeBack-brooding Western Grebe – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

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.

Western Grebe back-brooding its youngWestern Grebe back-brooding its young – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

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.



  1. Kathie May 8, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Mia, what sweet photos! I was never privileged to see this! Maybe someday.

  2. Elephant's Child May 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Happy Mothers Day and mothering day.

  3. Joan Carey May 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Those are adorable images and as Bob stated, wonderful, perfect subject for Mother’s Day. Mia, each morning I enjoy seeing your beautiful photos, thank you. Enjoy your day!

  4. Utahbooklover May 8, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Thanks for the wonderful images for Mother’s Day. Hope you have a good one Mia.

  5. April Olson May 8, 2016 at 10:53 am


  6. Patty Chadwick May 8, 2016 at 10:12 am

    As far as cuteness is concerned, these grebes are at least a ten!!! Suchba clever way to proyect their babies from predators! Happy Mothers’ Fay to you, too…and all other mothers, dad-mothers and mothers ofcall kinds, grebes included…

  7. Cindy May 8, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Love the images Mia! Always enjoy your images whether I express it or not. Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for your generosity.

  8. John Eppler May 8, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Beautiful, I saw this last spring, too.

  9. Roger Burnard May 8, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Mia, these are just GREAT images… I have always wanted to photograph these birds, and
    now you have shown me what I’ve been missing. Very nice!!! ;-)))

  10. Bob McPherson May 8, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Beautiful photos Mia. Wonderful subject for Mothers Day. Hope yours is the Happiest Ever.

  11. Bob McPherson May 8, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia. Wonderful subject for Mothers Day. Hope yours is the happiest ever.

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