How interesting. Thanks Jim. You continue to teach me new things about nature. Great pics, Claudia!
A visit from a horned grebe
Submitted by JIM NIGRO on April 22, 2013 - 6:22am
This horned grebe spent much of last weekend in our backyard after the Tonawanda spilled its banks. "Tamer" than other grebes, it allowed Claudia to take these photos without much alarm on its part. Still in its winter plumage in these pics, as it nears its breeding season the neck will turn rufous, the head and back will darken drastically and its russet "horns" will be more prominent.
Here its slightly tilting its head to accommodate a small fish down its gullet. Despite the murky floodwater, this grebe had no trouble finding prey beneath the surface. While its diet consists mostly of small fish, the horned grebe will also eat some crustaceans and aquatic insects. We watched as it would quickly dive and surface several seconds later, a process it would repeat several times throughout the day.
Excellent swimmers, young horned grebes can swim and dive immediately after hatching but most often they hitch a ride atop their parent's backs.
Horned grebes are rarely seen in flight, they migrate under cover of darkness and once on their wintering grounds they seldom leave the water. It spent all of last Saturday morning, afternoon and night in our flooded back yard. It was still there early last Sunday morning but with the floodwaters quickly receding, our visitor finally departed.