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Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps


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Pied-billed Grebe, breeding
credit: Mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Podicipedidae, Grebes view all from this family

Description ADULT In summer, has gray-brown plumage, palest on flanks and neck. Bill is pale gray with a striking black band. In winter, plumage is more orange-buff, particularly on neck. Throat is pale and bill is uniformly yellowish gray. JUVENILE Has head stripes at first, but after molt acquires plumage like winter adult.

Dimensions Length: 12-15" (30-38 cm)

Habitat Widespread and common. Breeds on well-vegetated ponds and lakes and in winter moves south to ice-free similar freshwater habitats.

Observation Tips Usually indifferent to observers but seldom remains at water surface for long.

Range New England, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, Alaska, Texas, Western Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Eastern Canada, California

Voice Utters various clucking and chattering calls.

Similar Species Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus (L 9-10 in) recalls a tiny version of Pied-billed Grebe but note the darker plumage overall in summer, beady yellow eyes (dark in Pied-billed), and daintier bill. Locally common only in southern Texas, on well-vegetated ponds and lakes.

Discussion Stocky, plump-bodied grebe. Note the pale "powderpuff" of fluffy feathers at rear end. Bill is proportionately large and thick; black band is absent during winter months. Dives frequently for small fish and aquatic invertebrates. Sexes are similar.