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, April 27, 2014

Little brown diving bird with a striped bill

I saw this little guy resting behind the willows this morning and need help in identifying it. It was quite a diver.

Ahh, what a cutie! The Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) is found in ponds throughout Michigan in the summer. Other names of this grebe include American dabchick, Carolina grebe, devil-diver, dive-dapper, dipper, hell-diver, pied-billed dabchick, thick-billed grebe, and water witch.

Allaboutbirds.org describes them as, “A small diving bird with a chicken-like bill, the Pied-billed Grebe is common on lakes and ponds across North America. It is rarely seen flying and prefers to sink out of sight when danger threatens.” 

The binomial name is derived from Latin Podilymbus, a contraction of podicipes ("feet at the buttocks", from podici-, "rump-" + pes, "foot". It refers to the way the bird’s feed are located toward the back of its body. In flight, the feet extend beyond the tail and help the bird to steer. 

I also looked him up the Ted Black’s Birds of Michigan field guide. He wrote, “The Pied-billed Grebe is an extremely wary bird and is far more common than encounters would lead you to believe. It tends to swim inconspicuously in shallow water of quiet bays and rivers. Only occasionally voicing its strange chuckle or whinny. These grebes build their floating nests among sparse vegetation, so that they can see predators approaching from far away. When frightened by an intruder, they cover their eggs and slide under water, leaving a nest that looks like nothing more than a mat of debris. A pied Billed Grebe can slowly submerge up to its head, so that only its nostrils and eyes remain above the water.”
Thank you Greg for sharing your wonderful photographs! If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com

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