Friday, April 25, 2008

My First Pics of Horned Grebe in Breeding Plumage

While I was out photographing the heron rookery at the North Mississippi Regional Park, at the beginning of last week, I noticed a small brown and black bird surface in the river near the shore where I was standing. I was excited because at first glance I thought that it was an eared grebe in breeding plumage. Last year on our Yellowstone vacation we swung a couple hundred miles out of our way to stop at Medicine Lake NWR, in Montana, just to photograph eared grebes in breeding plumage. Here is a photograph of an eared grebe in breeding plumage from last years trip.
Since I did not get a real good look at it before it dived back under the water I went down stream a bit and looked for it to surface. When I located the bird again I realized that it was not an eared grebe that I had spotted but I was close. It was a horned grebe in breeding plumage.
This was still pretty exciting because it was the first horned grebe that I had photographed in its breeding plumage. All of my past horned grebe pics, like this one below taken at Park Point in Duluth, MN last October, where of the birds in their non-breeding plumage.I've got to say they look a lot cooler in the breeding plumage. Unlike a lot of ducks both sexes of horned grebes look the same so both male and female change plumage during the breeding season.An interesting fact that I found out about horned grebes when I was reading up on them is that they eat their own feathers. These feathers form a plug or filter in the stomach that may fish bones until they can be digested. They even feed their feathers to their chicks so that they can start forming a plug.
My next goal is going to be to photograph both horned and eared grebe with their chicks. Like loons the young grebe chicks frequently ride on the backs of the adults. I would really like to get some pics of that. I will need to start working on researching good locations and times where I might find grebes with their chicks so that in the future I can bring you that shot.


John B. said...

Great photos! I'm not usually lucky enough to catch them in breeding plumage.

Unknown said...

Nice shots! The ones I've found were, I'm pretty sure, by pure luck. No consistent sightings for me, just on the river in Hudson, and a few in Colorado.

Anonymous said...

Great Pictures, I saw a couple of these guys on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a stunning little grebe. And quite demonic looking too. I know the European Black-necked Grebe but it does not have those little horns. Great photos!

Ecobirder said...

Thanks everyone for your nice comments.I would love to see a European black-necked grebe wa twitchgirl.