Calling Pied-billed Grebe in breeding plumage – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
At my local pond it has been several weeks since I have seen groups of Pied-billed Grebes, I’ve only seen one or two at a time and that is partly because the pond doesn’t provide them with areas to nest that have little disturbance. Usually some time in February or early March these grebes leave the pond and head towards areas that have better nesting locations. I was even able to photograph some of these grebes in flight a few years ago during the time when they leave the local pond and I never thought I’d be able to do that because they migrate at night so I believe that the Pied-billed Grebes I photographed in flight were simply conditioning their wings for longer flights because they didn’t fly very far.
Two days ago I noticed one Pied-billed Grebe carrying vegetation in its bill which I presume it was gathering to build its floating nest at a small pond at Farmington Bay WMA and later on I heard the call of a Pied-billed Grebe, located the grebe and photographed it as it called. These grebes do have some interesting calls and I don’t seem to have many photos of them calling during their breeding season so I am glad I photographed this one the other day.
Listen to a Pied-billed Grebe calling here.
The Pied-billed Grebe I photographed calling is in its breeding plumage which means its bill appears more pied, or bi-colored, than it does when they aren’t in breeding plumage. With the Pied-billed Grebes in breeding plumage and carrying nesting materials I guess that means it won’t be long before I should start looking for their floating nests in the marshes and ponds here in northern Utah.
If the sun would stop hiding behind the clouds I’d be doing that today. We need the moisture but I’d also like some bright sunny mornings too.
Life is good.
Some facts about Pied-billed Grebes:
- Some Pied-billed Grebes are migratory and some are year round residents. Year round residents will migrate short distances when ponds and lakes freeze solid to find open water.
- Pied-billed Grebes prefer small ponds and marshes with vegetation for cover, during the winter they will congregate in larger bodies of water.
- Pied-billed Grebes eat vegetation, amphibians like frogs and tadpoles, crustaceans, fish, insects, snail and beetles.
- Pied-billed Grebes lay 2 to 10 eggs which hatch in 23 to 27 days. Both sexes incubate and they are monogamous.
- Nicknames for Pied-billed Grebes include “water witch”, “devil diver”, “dabchick” and “Hell diver”.
- A group of grebes is called a “water dance” of grebes.
- Pied-billed Grebes can live at least 4 years.