Pied-billed Grebes With Flying Crayfish – See Food On The Wing

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Pied-billed Grebe and flying CrayfishPied-billed Grebe and flying Crayfish – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The Pied-billed Grebes at the local pond have been feasting on the crayfish they have been finding and because they have I have gotten some very interesting behavior in my photos of the grebes. Three afternoons ago I captured images of not just one flying crayfish in the air but two of them because of the Pied-billed Grebes capturing and consuming the freshwater crustaceans.

Crayfish go by many nicknames including crawfish, crawdads, yabbies, mountain and freshwater lobsters and mudbugs. I guess I could have titled this post “Pied-billed Grebes with Flying Mudbugs” too.

I didn’t have the best angle of light in the first Pied-billed Grebe and flying crayfish but I liked that I caught two parts of the crayfish in mid air, the claw between the open bill of the grebe and the body of the crayfish about to take a dive into the pond.

As a former swimming & diving competitor I feel that I can give the crayfish an 8.5 for the dive, it would splash less on entry if its little legs were closer to its head, other than that its form is wonderful. 😉

Pied-billed Grebe tossing a Crayfish into the airPied-billed Grebe tossing a Crayfish into the air – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The Pied-billed Grebes snap the legs with the claws off first, probably to protect themselves from getting injured by them, then consume the body of the crayfish. I was surprised to get two of the crayfish in “flight” on the same afternoon because of how quickly this all happens, the frame after this doesn’t even show the crayfish in it because by then it was in the water.

These aren’t what I would call great images technically but the action and behavior make up for that in my opinion.

Life is good.



  1. Pepe Forte December 23, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Sooo cool! Great movement; your timing is [was?] exquisite. Thanks Mia.

    BTW – Your pics remind me that when I was a kid, back in the ‘early ’50’s, my buddies and I used to go crawdad fishing in a nearby slough. We would dangle a piece of bologna from a length of string and the crawdads would grab on and never let go. When we had a coffee can full of them we would go over to the pond that fed the slough and catch catfish. As soon as we dropped line it seemed like a billion catfish would hit the hook all at once. Talk about a feeding frenzy. The water would literally boil with catfish trying to get at the bait. [Kinda like the media following the Kardashian’s around Beverly Hills.] We rarely kept anything we caught…but loved watching the catfish go nuts over any kind of food we would throw in the pond.

    But there was also a lesson involved. Once, when we were telling our folks about these crazy fish, one of the Dad’s said it was a great story but to keep in mind that despite how ugly and aggressive the catfish were in pursuit of the goodies we threw out…they were just fighting to survive. Everything, he said, like worms and trees and fish, wants to live. At the time we thought he was the biggest party-pooper in history. It was our first taste of the empathy sandwich and we didn’t like it. It took awhile…but we finally figured it out.

    Years later I was telling the same story to one of my daughters who had just come back from a fishing trip. When I was done, she looked at me squinty-eyed and asked if that also applied to pet rocks. Kids.

  2. Marty K December 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Came out of the pike too soon — 7.5 from the Russian judge. 😉

  3. Larrry Muench December 21, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Great shots (and I love the performance rating)!

  4. Elephants Child December 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    What fun – except for the crayfish.

  5. Liz Cormack December 21, 2017 at 7:04 am

    What great action photos.

  6. www.timtraver.net December 21, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Too cool! Awesome! Yum.

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