Once considered the same species as Clark’s Grebe but now classified separately, the boldly patterned, black and white Western Grebe breeds over a large portion of western North America but winters primarily along the West Coast. Migratory movements occur at night, and Western Grebes usually travel in flocks.
Western Grebes are capable divers and propel themselves underwater with their feet. Most dives last about half a minute. Weather is one major threat to Western Grebes, and can cause significant destruction of nests through storm generated wave action. Birds can also be frozen into lakes when surface water freezes overnight.
Description of the Western Grebe
The Western Grebe has black upperparts, hindneck, and crown, and white underparts. It has a pointed, greenish-yellow bill and red eyes. The eyes are usually enclosed by a black area of feathers extending down from the crown and forehead.
Sexes are similar.
Seasonal change in appearance
Seasonal changes are small. Winter birds can have a pale area around the eye.
Juveniles have neck and back feathers edged with gray.
Marshes with emergent vegetation and ocean bays.
Forages by diving.
Breeds across much of the western U.S. and south-central Canada and winters along the West Coast and in the southwestern U.S.
When the chicks are getting older and close to fledging age, the parent may spilt the brood between them.
Where Clark’s and Western Grebes breed in the same area, males of the two species are aggressive towards one another
The call is made up of two notes sounding like “crick-creek”.
- Clark’s Grebes have bills that are more orange, and usually have a white area immediately around the eye.
The nest is a floating pile of plant material.
Color: Pale bluish-white.
Incubation and fledging:
– Young hatch at 24 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) shortly after hatching to climb onto the back of a parent.