The pied-billed grebe is a shy and solitary bird. When threatened it may hide in emergent aquatic vegetation, dive below the water's surface, or simply sink into the water. The grebe also will dive for its food, which consists of crawfish; aquatic insects; and small fish, such as perch, sunfish, and minnows.
The grebe, like some other species of waterfowl, builds its open-bowl nest on a floating vegetation mat loosely anchored to reeds or cattails so it can float with varying water levels or waves. Once the chicks hatch, they often ride on the parents’ backs, especially when danger threatens. After about ten days, they usually forego the ride and simply dive beneath the water’s surface when threatened.
This grebe may feed on its own feathers, which act to cushion the sharp points of spines and bones of its fish prey.
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
Key ID Features: Small, gray duck-like bird, light bill with black ring during summer.
Present in Park: March through November.
Habitat: Wetlands, lakes, and rivers that have emergent vegetation.
Did You Know?
The Mississippi River Basin, or watershed, drains 41% of the continental United States including 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces.