About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Miniature Loon with a yellow bill

What bird will actually swim under water here in the great lakes, not dive in to just get a fish but dive under and swim? I saw one yesterday and thought maybe a loon but this one had a yellow beak. ~ Marysville, MI

Red-Necked Grebe winter colors
The Red-Necked Grebe looks like a mini loon when flying and can sink out of sight when on the water. They are strong swimmers and divers that can spend thirty seconds or longer underwater diving for food. Their feet are positioned far back on the body, also like our loon, which makes the bird ungainly on land and the reason that nearly all of their time is spent on the water.

The Red-necked Grebe is a nondescript dusky-grey bird in winter. They also have a yellow beak and are a regular fall migrant in Michigan. During the breeding season, it acquires the distinctive red neck plumage, black cap and contrasting pale grey face from which its name was derived.

Red-Necked Grebe with babies riding on back
The red-necked grebe lives in marshy ponds and lakes in the summer. In the winter and during migration it can be found on large lakes, coastal bays and estuaries. When migrating over land they primarily fly at night, either alone or with a small loosely associated group.

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