A small (13 inches) grebe, the Pied-billed Grebe in summer is most easily identified by its gray-brown body, black chin, and conspicuous black bill stripe. In winter, this species loses its black facial adornments, becoming plain gray-brown overall. Male and female Pied-billed Grebes are similar to one another in all seasons. The Pied-billed Grebe breeds across much of the United States, southern Canada, and the northern half of Mexico. In winter, northerly-breeding Pied-billed Grebes abandon their breeding grounds and migrate south as far as southern Mexico and Central America; populations that breed further south are non-migratory. Other non-migratory populations exist in the West Indies, at isolated sites in Central America, and in South America south to central Argentina. Pied-billed Grebes breed on small lakes and ponds, preferring heavily vegetated areas for nest-building and more open areas for feeding. This species utilizes similar habitat types in winter as in summer. Pied-billed Grebes primarily eat small fish, insects, and crustaceans. In appropriate habitat, Pied-billed Grebes may be observed floating low in the water, periodically diving down to capture prey. Many birdwatchers learn to appreciate the Pied-billed Grebe’s ability to quickly sink into the water with minimal surface disturbance when, after returning their attention to the water after a momentary distraction, they discover the bird has “vanished” without a trace. Pied-billed Grebes are primarily active during the day, but migrating birds fly mainly at night.
Uncommon breeding bird along the Eastern and Western Shore, nesting in May and June. Common migrant in all aquatic habitats from February through May and August through December. Many birds winter from November through February. Sexes are similar.
This bird, in winter plumage, is on the left.
Collected By: Wm Palmer/Edward J Brown
Locality: Potomac River, DC
Catalog ID: 293010
This young grebe is in the center of the exhibit.
Collected By: Mr. Hamilton
Locality: Washington, DC (Carp Ponds)
Catalog ID: 75364
This bird, in breeding plumage, is on the right.
Collected By: Henry R Marshall
Locality: Laurel, MD
Catalog ID: 233681