WESTERN GREBE


Aechmophorus occidentalis


Description:

Western Grebes perform several elaborate dances while mating. In one dance, the two mating birds rapidly begin "running" across the water surface until both birds dive down into the water. In the second dance, the two birds raise their bellies out of the water and carress each other with vegetation held in their bills. These birds lay 3-4 eggs with an incubation period of about 23 days. Fledgings can often be seen riding on the back of the female. These birds feed on small crustaceans and fish.


Appearance:

Black upperparts, white lowerparts. Back of long slender neck is black, front is white from chin to belly. Pointy black crown. Long thin yellow bill. Red eye surrounded by black. Its head and neck are said to look like a Cobra. Legs/feet sit far back on it's body. Sexes similiar. 20 to 24 inches in length.


Habitat:

Large lakes and open wetlands.


Nesting:

3-4 bluish-white eggs, stained brown or buff. They have an incubation period of about 23 days. Fledging occurs 63-77 days after hatching. The nest is built floating on water and anchored to reeds. These birds nest in dense, noisy colonies.


Observed Locations:

  • Lake Murray, La Mesa
  • Mission Bay
  • San Diego Bay





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Eric Sandquist Photo

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