Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe --  Length: 13 inches,  Wing span: 16 inches

The Pied-billed Grebe is a nocturnal migrant that prefers to swim or dive away from danger rather than fly. When dawn is approaching, a migrating Pied-billed Grebe suddenly lands on any body of water it can find. It moves north early in the spring, and moves south in response to forming ice.

Pied-billed Grebes usually require a running, flapping start across the water to become airborne. They can also sink slowly down under the water by releasing air from their air sacs and squeezing air out from between their body and their feathers.

The Pied-billed Grebe is a small swimming and diving bird with a compact body and a rather short, stout bill. Breeding birds have a blackish forehead and chin, a white bill with a black band, and mostly tan or brownish plumage.

Poied-billed Grebe side view
Breeding birds have a blackish forehead and chin, a white bill with a black band, and mostly tan or brownish plumage.Pied-bills often look gray to black. Photograph © Sam Crowe.

 

Poied-billed Grebe side view
Winter birds lack the black forehead and chin, and have a more uniform, brownish bill. Sexes are similar. Photograph © Sam Crowe.

 

Poied-billed Grebe side view
Note the dark mark in front of the eye.  Photograph © Sam Crowe.

 

Poied-billed Grebe side view
The tail shows a small puff of white, visible in this and the following photo.  Photograph © Sam Crowe.

 

Pied-billed Grebe from back
Photograph © Sam Crowe.

 

Pied-billed Grebe from back
Juveniles resemble winter adults, but have a striped cheek pattern. Photograph © Sam Crowe.

 

Pied-billed Grebe chicks
Very young Pied-billed Grebes have an amazing head pattern. Photograph © Elaine Wilson.

 

Pied-billed Grebe juvenile
Young Pied-billed Grebe. Photograph © Alan Wilson.