As part of his continuing series of faux ducks, biologist John Avise presents us with another species that looks like a duck but isn’t one. See if you can guess the species, and then click below the fold for the answer and other Faux Duck information. John’s words and captions are indented.
This week we begin another group of birds that neophytes could mistake for ducks.
Adult in non-breeding condition:
Another adult non-breeder:
Adult in breeding condition:
Transitional adult, frontal view:
Adult with chicks:
Adult with fish:
Click “read more” to see the ID, some Faux Duck Facts (not fake news!), and a range map.
ID: Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
Grebes (family Podicipedidae) constitute another group of waterbirds that beginning birdwatchers might confuse with ducks (Anatidae). About half a dozen grebe species inhabit North America, and I will cover these in the next several weeks. All grebes are foot-propelled diving birds with lobate (partially webbed) feet protruding from legs far back on the body. The Pied-billed grebe is one of the smaller members of this family and is common nearly continent-wide in North America. Pied-billed grebes typically surface-dive headfirst, but they can also submerge slowly by gradually sinking their body beginning “amidships” (see photo). Chicks have a striped head and look very different from the adults. Grebes eat fish, frogs, and crustaceans, among other aquatic animals. Grebes typically migrate at night, and I have never actually seen one in full flight.
And a range map from the Cornell site: