BotB 2: Grebes

Next up on the list are the GREBES.

Grebes
Family:Podicidpedidae
# of Species: 7
Species Seen / Photographed: 7 / 7

Grebes are found throughout the United States, primarily in marshy and coastal areas. Pied-billed Grebes are the most common of the group, the only species that can be found in all states at some point of the year. The majority of the grebe species breed at least partially in Canada, with only the Clark’s Grebe and Least Grebe breeding only in the U.S., the latter restricted to only a few specific locations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas.

I’ve always enjoyed grebes, although there only few times I get to see them other the most common pied-billed grebes.

Get my best side, please.

In New Jersey, we are lucky enough to get 3 species commonly – the Pied-billed, which breeds in the state and Eared Grebes and Horned Grebes, which winter and migrate through the state. Rarely, Red-necked Grebes also make appearances. I’ve never seen a Red-necked Grebe, but I’ve been lucky enough to see the other two in winter close up, and in breeding plumage from a distance a few times.

Grebe on Blue

Eared Grebe

I’ve tried several times out west to see the ‘western’ grebes, but so far have only see a Clark’s Grebe in a bay in Monterey Bay, California. It popped up as a surprise amidst a group of sea otters to make an already very cool situation even better.

Quite the 'Do

But my most special grebe sighting was when we found the rare (in fact, endangered) Least Grebe at the now (sadly) closed Sabal Palm Audubon Center. The center was known to be a place where they were seen, and we found a pair of them near the beginning of our visit and had some great chances to get wonderful looks at these interesting birds.

Hidden in the Reeds

But the highlight was that we watched the pair building their nest, dragging sodden reeds from the water and pushing them into place. We watched and photographed them for a while, then decided to give them some peace. After wandering around the park for a while, we wanted to check in on the pair on our way out — and were surprised to find that they had laid an egg! It was a great experience that remains one of my most treasured birding moments.

Nesting Least Grebe

UPDATE: 1/27/2016

So, I’ve managed to see the last two species of grebe over the last couple of years. I saw my first WESTERN GREBE in NJ, strangely enough, a wintering bird in the Cape May Harbor (1/5/13). It came in close and offered up wonderful chances to see and photograph it.

Western Grebe

I finally got my lifer RED-NECKED GREBE at Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest, NJ. It was a wily bird who would not come in very close to the docks and seemed to always be in the worst lighting. But I finally got to see one – and I’ve seen them twice since. Another nemesis down.

Doesn't look like a redneck to me

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