Pied-Billed Grebe

pied-billed grebe floating in a marsh
Pied-billed grebe

NPS Photo / Soren George-Nichol

Podilymbus podiceps

Pied-billed grebes are commonly found in marshes and wetlands in Mexico and the southern United States year-round and seen in the northern U.S. and southern Canada during the summer breeding season. They are less social and more secretive than many species of grebe. They forage by diving beneath the water and snatching insects, small fish, and other aquatic life.

Pied-billed grebes will select mates by calling to each other, sometimes performing duets. Both parents will work together to build nests in shallow water in such a way that allows the parents to swim to the nest underwater. The nests are usually floating mats of vegetation. The female lays four to seven eggs, but both parents will help incubate the eggs. The eggs can also be left for short periods under plant material from the nest. Both parents will help feed the young chicks. Chicks will ride on their parents' backs when very young but are able to swim very soon after hatching. Pied-billed grebes usually raise one or two broods per year, but in the southeast, where it is warmer, they will sometimes raise more.

Jehl Jr, J. R. (2017). Feather-eating in grebes: A 500-year conundrum. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 129(3), 446-458.

Kaufman, K. (2001). Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Last updated: May 3, 2021

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