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This small water bird has a wingspan of 18 to 24 inches, a body length of 12 to 15 inches, and a weight of about one-half to one-and-a-half pounds. During the breeding season, the adult's bill is ivory-white to bluish gray, with a thick black band around the middle; the throat is black, and; a bluish-white ring surrounds each reddish-brown eye. Outside of the breeding season, the bill is brownish, sometimes with a faint band; the throat is white; the sides of the neck, the throat, and the upper breast are reddish-brown, and; the eyes are brownish. Both sexes are similar in plumage and size.
Distribution and Habitat
This species is common on lakes and ponds across North and South America, breeding across much of Canada, southward across the United States into Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.
The nest is an open bowl set in a platform of floating vegetation. A typical clutch contains 3 to 10 bluish-white eggs.
Chicks can leave the nest soon after hatching, but are poor swimmers until after their first week. For their first ten days or so their response to danger is to climb onto a parent's back.
Pied-billed grebes feed on fish, crustaceans (especially crayfish), and aquatic insects. They dive underwater for most of their food, taking prey in open water or among aquatic vegetation.
Habits and Behaviors
Although the pied-billed grebe is rarely seen flying, it can be a long-distance flyer. In fact, stray individuals have been seen in Hawaii and Europe.
It prefers to escape danger by diving.
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This page was last updated on February 11, 2018.