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Pied-billed Grebe

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Pied-billed Grebes are small, stocky birds that in some ways resemble a small chicken. Their plumage is a drab brown, but in breeding season they take on a black stripe across their beak and a black patch on their throat. They frequent lakes and ponds with heavy vegetation.

Pied-billed Grebe
• Length: 13 inches
• Wingspan: 16 inches
• Season: Year-round
More about Pied-billed Grebes.
Where they are, and when.

Pied-billed Grebes are shy and will dive underwater at the least provocation, often surfacing a distance away and hiding among the reeds. They are designed for swimming, with legs set back on their bodies and lobed feet. For that reason, they tend to stay in the water, neither flying nor walking along the banks. They feed on crawfish, insects, frogs and small fish.

Pied-billed Grebes build a floating platform nest attached to shallow water vegetation and typically lay four to six blue-green eggs. Adults will flap their wings vigorously between dives to distract predators from their young. Chicks sleep on their mother’s backs and retreat there when danger threatens.


January 30, 2013

I saw a Pied-billed Grebe, but only for a few seconds before it dived out of sight. I waited and waited for it to reappear, but to no avail. A few minutes later, it popped up on the other side of the pond at Brazos Bend State Park. I don’t know how long they can stay under or how far they can swim, but it’s unnaturally long. Because of their diminutive appearance and sprightly habits, to me, they’re the bird that never grows up.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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