Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives. It is a colonial breeder, with an uneven and clustered breeding distribution. Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds. Western Grebes are highly gregarious at all seasons, nesting in colonies and wintering in flocks. Western and Clark’s grebes are closely related picivorous aquatic birds that once were considered different color phases of the same species, and they do occasionally interbreed (Konter 2011). Nest (built by both sexes) a floating heap of plant material, anchored to standing vegetation. Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. The Western Grebe is the largest member of the grebe family. Habitat selection and food habits. It usually occurs in the great plains and western states, but occasionally can be found in the eastern half of the United States. Photo: Dick Dickinson/Audubon Photography Awards, Breeding adult and downy young. Although, at times, this grebe species has been seen in the eastern parts of North America, it is a bird whose habitat is mainly in western regions of the continent. In one study on lakes in Oregon, Clark's tended to feed farther from shore and in deeper water. Pale bluish white, becoming nest-stained brown. Sometimes many pairs in a colony display simultaneously. They dive deeply when hunting, swimming around with wings mostly closed. It usually stays on prairie lakes in British Columbia and California, and sometimes as far down as Mexico. In this article, I am going to discuss western grebe dance, call, courtship, mating, habitat… It’s simply confused with Clark’s grebe, which shares related options, physique measurement, habits and habitat, and hybrids are recognized. Distribution / Habitat: Western Grebes nest in colonies of hundreds on large inland lakes, sometimes using coastal marshes, in western North America. Forages by diving from surface and swimming underwater, propelled mainly by feet. The western grebe is a common breeder in eastern Oregon, especially at large lakes and marshes having open water in Klamath, Harney, Goose Lake, and Warner basins. The Western Grebe is the largest North American member of the grebe family. The first is called the rushing ceremony. They our largest grebe in North America being only fractionally larger than Clark's Grebes. Sick or injured western grebes occasionally wash up on beaches. (2014). Ecological Systems Associated with this Species Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations It is black-and-white, with a long, slender, swan-like neck and red eyes. It winters mainly in coastal areas from southern Alaska to Mexico, and on inland lakes, particularly in the southern portion of its range. The display concludes with a sudden dive. The grebe is often seen in large “rafts”, groups of western grebes far from shore in deeper river channels. Winters mainly on sheltered bays or estuaries on coast, also on large fresh water lakes, rarely on rivers. Range / Habitat: The Western Grebe is commonly found from Canada through California, and sometimes in Mexico. Much of the grebe nesting habitat in the Columbia Plateau is tied to reservoirs that are directly influenced by surrounding water use. Hayes, F. E., and D. G. Turner. The Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis ) is a North American waterbird species belonging to the grebe family. Some southwestern and Mexican populations probably permanent residents. They occasionally take prey items from the lake bottom. The nest is a mound of vegetation with a depression for the eggs in the center, built of aquatic vegetation and anchored to vegetation or an underwater snag, so that it is less subject to wind and wave action. The nest of a Western Grebe is a large platform of reeds and other aquatic vegetation, placed in shallow water in an area protected from waves and wind, and anchored to vegetation to prevent vulnerability to changing conditions. The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Waterbirds 40 (2): 168-172. https://doi.org/10.1675/063.040.0209. Their thin, reedy calls are characteristic sounds of western marshes in summer. Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program. Avian Conservation Assessment Database. It’s black-and-white, with an extended, slender, swan-like neck and pink eyes. Reproductive Characteristics. It usually occurs in the great plains and western states, but occasionally can be found in the eastern half of the United States. Populations of Western Grebe were stable or declining from 1968 to 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. [Updated by COSEWIC– May. 2-4, rarely 1-6. The largest known Western grebe nesting colonies in Washington are primarily associated with Potholes Reservoir, the hub of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. Other names for this species include “swan grebe”, “dabchick” and “swan-necked grebe”. (2013). Western Grebes nest on large freshwater lakes and marshes edged with reeds and rushes. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). 2). Range / Habitat: The Western Grebe is commonly found from Canada through California, and sometimes in Mexico. Arizona Department of Water Resources and Audubon Agree to Funding Plan to Conserve Colorado River Water, How to Get Better at Saving Oiled Birds? Apparently feeds mainly on fish at all seasons and in all habitats. It has a spectacular courtship displays; two birds will rear up and patter across the water's surface. Age at first flight about 10 weeks. Habitat. 2015; National Audubon Society 2015b). LaPorte, Nicholas, Robert W. Storer and Gary L. Nuechterlein. Clark's grebe is very similar in plumage, habitat, and behavior to the western grebe. It is very similar to the Clark's Grebe, … Red-necked Grebes. Winters mainly on sheltered bays or estuaries on coast, also on large fresh water lakes, rarely on rivers. They stab their prey with a quick jab of the bill or capture it between the mandibles. Help power unparalleled conservation work for birds across the Americas, Stay informed on important news about birds and their habitats, Receive reduced or free admission across our network of centers and sanctuaries, Access a free guide of more than 800 species of North American birds, Discover the impacts of climate change on birds and their habitats, Learn more about the birds you love through audio clips, stunning photography, and in-depth text. Patch of bare yellow skin on head of young turns scarlet when young beg for food or are separated from parents. The mating display of the Western Grebe is spectacular, with both members of a pair paddling vigorously and churning across the surface of the water in an upright posture. For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. Nests can be 2–3 feet across or even larger. Described to science in 1858, Clark's Grebe was soon dismissed as a mere variant of Western Grebe, and thereafter was ignored for over a century. METHODS Study area Data on Western Grebe abundance were collected on 43 lakes at which the species was known to occur within the past 40 years in Alberta’s Boreal Forest, Parkland, and Grassland regions (Fig. Summers mainly on fresh water lakes with large areas of both open water and marsh vegetation; rarely on tidal marshes. It is commonly seen in the Refuge throughout the year, although less common in summer. The Western Grebe is the largest member of the grebe family. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. It breeds in inland lakes with emergent vegetation such as cattails and tules. Last summer ended in calamity for a nesting colony at PG&E's Lake Almanor. Membership benefits include one year of Audubon magazine and the latest on birds and their habitats. grebe populations due to market hunting and extensive nesting habitat loss. Western and Clark’s grebes are closely related picivorous aquatic birds that once were considered different color phases of the same species, and they do occasionally interbreed (Konter 2011). Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 87,000 individuals, ranks them a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and places them on the Yellow Watch List for species with declining populations. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. Rulers of the Upper Realm, Thunderbirds Are Powerful Native Spirits, 44 Perfect Gifts for the Bird and Nature Lovers in Your Life. Food: Western Grebes feed on fish. Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus Species of Concern. Water depth below the nest is usually less than a foot, and most nest sites are sheltered from wave action. Longevity records of North American birds. It dives for its food and can stay down in the water for a very long time. After the breeding season, many move first to lakes where they molt their wing feathers, becoming flightless during that period. Now an Audubon chapter is fighting back to ensure that birds and locals get all the hydration they need. Summers mainly on fresh water lakes with large areas of both open water and marsh vegetation; rarely on tidal marshes. Plain pale bluish, often stained brownish by sodden nest material. Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news. a courtship show it shares with its shut relative, the Western Grebe—could make it look as if ballet dancers have taken to the water. Bald Eagle. Smaller numbers winter inland on lakes and rivers. Estimates suggest a steep decline of 2% per year, but these figures have a wide margin of error because of the difficulty of monitoring this species. It’s the least you can do. The Western Grebe was classified a “climate endangered” species, as modeling results predicted a loss of 96% of the species’ current summer habitat by the year 2080 (Langham et al. 2017. Lots and Lots of Practice, Inland Lakes Keep California’s Grebes Afloat—Until Waters Get Too Low. 2016, Birds of Montana. The western grebe, at just over 2 feet (0.6 m) in length, is the largest of the North American grebes. Incubation by both sexes, about 24 days. Mexican populations of both Western and Clark's grebes may be declining as cutting of tules on lakes removes nesting habitat. The western grebe, at just over 2 feet (0.6 m) in length, is the largest of the North American grebes. Some species winter on sheltered coastal waters. 2). It is very similar to the Clark's Grebe, who has a black cap that only starts above the eyes. Possible aliases, alternative names and misspellings for Aechmophorus occidentalis. Or take action immediately with one of our current campaigns below: The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to more than 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. West of the Cascades, it is a regular breeder at Fern Ridge Reservoir. Are the Trump Administration's Environmental Rollbacks Built to Last? The bright red eyes of the Western Grebe are surrounded by black. Most birds from northern part of range migrate west to Pacific Coast. Western Grebes are rarely seen flying, as they migrate at night and have little need for flight at other times. Photo: Howard Arndt/Audubon Photography Awards, Great Egret. Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis. Additional Sources of Information Related to "Birds" American Bird Conservancy; American Birding Association; American Ornithologists Union; Learn more about these drawings. Photo by Michael Lazott. It is commonly seen in the Refuge throughout the year, although less common in summer. The grebe is often seen in large “rafts”, groups of western grebes far from shore in deeper river channels. Nest: Site is in shallow water marsh. Range / Habitat: The Western Grebe is commonly found from Canada through California, and sometimes in Mexico. Females bring wet material such as algae to bind the nest and form the central depression. It is also swan-like in appearance, giving it folk names, like "swan grebe" and "swan-necked grebe". 2017. Clark’s grebe was recognized as a distinct species in 1985 (AOU 1985). Nesting in tidal areas is unusual. One brood per year. Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis), version 2.0. Courtship behavior involves complex sequences of elaborate, ritualized postures. They spear fish with their dagger-shaped bills (Perrins and Middleton, 1985). Once their new flight feathers have grown in, most Western Grebes then migrate to saltwater or brackish habitats, including ocean shores, sheltered bays, rivers, and estuaries. This species has been known to interbreed with the Clark’s Grebe, which looks much like and shares the same habitat as the Western Grebe. Like other grebes, also eats feathers. Search massive, inland lakes in summer season and ocean shores in winter to seek out this species, which may happen alongside the … Western Grebe’s main courtship “ceremonies” have become emblematic examples of bird courtship. Clark's grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) is a North American waterbird species in the grebe family. Late May through mid-July in South Dakota. It is easily confused with Clark's grebe, which shares similar features, body size, behavior and habitat, and hybridsare known. Western Grebes build their nests near the water’s edge in emergent vegetation, usually rushes or reeds, less often in pondweed or milfoil. Face : Both species have a white face with a prominent black cap, but on Clark's grebes the red eye is surrounded by white while on western grebes the red eye is surrounded by black or dark gray. suggesting different implications for Western Grebe habitat conservation. Western Grebe Photos Photography by Terry Sohl. Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures. Along with its close relative, the Clark’s Grebe, it’s renowned for a ballet-like courtship display in which male and female “run” across the water in synchrony, their long necks curved in an S-shape. National Audubon Society On their coastal wintering grounds, they are generally found in sheltered salt or brackish water, in bays, inlets, estuaries, lagoons, and channels. Although, at times, this grebe species has been seen in the eastern parts of North America, it is a bird whose habitat is mainly in western regions of the continent. Males are larger, with larger bills, and they contribute larger stalks and stems. Western Grebe Images, Facts and Information: Aechmophorus occidentalis Western Grebes are large black and white grebes with cherry-red eyes that breed in lakes and ponds in western North America. Photo: Sunil Singh/Audubon Photography Awards. The Western Grebe breeds in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and throughout the western United States. It usually occurs in the great plains and western states, but occasionally can be found in the eastern half of the United States. Western and Clark's are only grebes having structure in neck allowing rapid spear-like thrusting of bill; may be useful in spearing fish, but use of this behavior is not well known. The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. During migration Western Grebes fly in loose flocks but spread out to feed during the day. Patch of bare yellow skin on head of young turns scarlet when young beg for food or are separated from parents. Can This Critically Endangered Bird Survive Australia's New Climate Reality? Age at first flight about 10 weeks. Explore Birds of the World to learn more. Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. Males select the nest site and feed females during the early part of the nesting season; both are territorial at the nest. Illustration © David Allen Sibley. Like many waterbirds, Western Grebe is sensitive to pesticides, habitat degradation, disturbance by humans (when nesting, especially from motorized watercraft), oil spills, and gill nets. Partners in Flight (2017). Breeds in colonies. Version 2.07.2017. Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis. Their back, wings, back of the neck, and cap are black. The Western Grebe, like other grebes, spends almost all its time The mating display of the Western Grebe is spectacular, with both members of a pair paddling vigorously and churning across the surface of the water in an upright posture. At 22-29 inches long, the Western Grebe is the largest of all North American grebes. Show Aliases. Each species account is written by leading ornithologists and provides detailed information on bird distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status, and conservation. On very large lakes, colonies may number in the hundreds of pairs. The display then moves to ratchet-pointing, in which birds lower themselves in the water, giving a grating, ratchetlike call with crest raised and throat distended. Western grebes nest in colonies on lakes which are combined with marsh vegetation and open water. Legal Notices Privacy Policy Contact Us. The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. Alert and covered with blackish or silvery down; leaves nest and rides on back of parent after hatching. The dabchicks and the pied-billed grebe are most numerous on small waters with much emergent vegetation, the western grebe on large bodies of open water. This species has been known to interbreed with the Clark’s Grebe, which looks much like and shares the same habitat as the Western Grebe. One brood per year. Hatching not synchronized; last egg may be abandoned in nest. Rushy lakes, sloughs; in winter, bays, ocean. A. and A. S. Love. Most conspicuous is a display in which two (or more) irds rear up to upright posture and rush across surface of water side by side, with loud pattering of feet, diving underwater at end of rush; other displays include "dancing" on water with bits of weed held in bill. Sibley, D. A. Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future. Fulfilling Drought Contingency Plan commitments and achieving water security for Arizona. (2019). Western Grebe nests are made of plant debris an… Washington, DC, USA. During "oiled bird season" off the coast of California, International Bird Rescue learns to rehabilitate the trickiest patients. Western Grebes can be found during the breeding season on large ponds and reservoirs in the Big Sage/Fescue zones in eastern Washington, especially at Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir … Around beginning of 20th century, tens of thousands were killed for their feathers. Grebes(Order: Podicipediformes, Family:Podicipedidae). Young: Climb onto back of parent within minutes after hatching, soon leave nest; are fed by both parents. Habitat: This grebe is usually seen on large reservoirs, lakes, and Lake Erie. Bannock. They also consume salamanders, crustaceans, marine worms, grasshoppers, and many aquatic insects and their larvae. It is easily confused with Clark's Grebe, which shares the same features, behavior and habitat, and hybrids are known. Copulation behavior in Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark’'s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii). Western Grebe are a medium-sized waterbird (22-30 in) with a long, white neck, a black head and back, and a white underside.They have a long, thin, yellow bill and red eyes.. Western Grebe nest in colonies on freshwater lakes and marshes in western Canada and the United States. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA. Lutmerding, J. METHODS Study area Data on Western Grebe abundance were collected on 43 lakes at which the species was known to occur within the past 40 years in Alberta’s Boreal Forest, Parkland, and Grassland regions (Fig. 2014] Top Migrates at night, probably in flocks. Nests are built on large inland lakes and coastal marshes of western North America. The grebe is often seen in large “rafts”, groups of western grebes far from shore in deeper river channels. It usually stays on prairie lakes in British Columbia and California, and sometimes as far down as Mexico. Western grebes nest in colonies on lakes that are mixed with marsh vegetation and open water. Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps. Sometimes many pairs in a colony display simultaneously. There are two main displays, called ceremonies because each involves a specific set of behaviors performed in sequence with an almost mechanical precision. Type in your search and hit Enter on desktop or hit Go on mobile device. Western Grebes eat mostly fish. The female is smaller and the bill on the female is much thinner and shorter (Storer and Nuechterlein 1992). It begins with a behavior called advertising, when birds deliver a rolling cree creet call. The male and female move through behaviors dubbed neck-stretching, bob-shaking, and weed-diving, before coming to the astonishing weed-dancing, in which male and female face each other with aquatic vegetation in the bill and rise up vertically, their feet in constant motion, necks extended and bills rising upward, and then begin spiral movements around one another, their bills gracefully turning as they pivot around their partner. Kushlan, J. Clark’s grebe was recognized as a distinct species in 1985 (AOU 1985). Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena. Scientific Name: Aechmophorus occidentalis. Rushy lakes, sloughs; in winter, bays, ocean. Adams. Each parent has a role in raising the young, which are often seen riding on the adults’ backs. Description: Western Grebes are large and long-necked. In recent years, there is also evidence of declining trends likely due to continuing habitat loss, increasing levels of Unlock thousands of full-length species accounts and hundreds of bird family overviews when you subscribe to Birds of the World. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019. Although the species has benefited from the creation of reservoirs and other wetlands, loss of natural wetlands and extensive hunting certainly led to historical declines in their populations. Western Grebes nest on large freshwater lakes and marshes edged with reeds and rushes. Clark's Grebe also have more extensive white on their flanks than a Western Grebe, and a brighter orange bill. The next component, dip-shaking, involves dipping the bill and head into the water, then raising up and shaking the head from side to side. suggesting different implications for Western Grebe habitat conservation. On very large lakes, colonies may number in the hundreds of pairs. Both share the same darker upperparts and lighter underparts, with a dark cap on the head and a yellowish bill. The Western Grebe has black around the eyes and a straight greenish-yellow bill whereas the Clark's Grebe has white around the eyes and an up-turned bright yellow bill. It requires open water for foraging on the surface or diving below in pursuit of fish. The other display, known as the weed ceremony, is similarly complex but occurs later in the nesting season between a mated pair. Studies in the 1970s and 1980s showed that Western and Clark's, though extremely similar, are actually two distinct species. Setting off crisp black-and-white plumage with a yellow bill and red eye, the slender Western Grebe is an elegant presence on lakes and ocean coasts of western North America. Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from Mostly fish. Then comes the spectacular rushing: both birds rise up in the water onto their feet, side by side, and simultaneously “rush” or run long distances across the surface, wings held up and back, necks curved, pattering with their powerful feet in what looks like a perfect bird ballet. Their feet are set far back on their bodies, and their movements at the nest are awkward. Observed in County(s) Ada. Pairs perform this display together, but two males may also execute it, presumably to attract females. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). It usually stays on prairie lakes in British Columbia and California, and sometimes as far down as Mexico. Your support helps secure a future for birds at risk. During migration Western Grebes fly in loose flocks but spread out to feed during the day. It is 55–75 cm (22–30 in) long, weighs 795–2,000 g (1.753–4.409 lb) and measures 79–102 cm (31–40 in) across the wings. Apparent recovery since, and has begun breeding in new areas not occupied historically. Both male and female build the nest together. Audubon protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Some birds may live year-round in the southwest. Flocks winter along the Pacific coast in sheltered bays or estuaries. During the breeding season, this species appears anything but awkward. During migration, they stop mainly on large lakes, but sometimes also use sloughs and river backwaters. My Favorite: Such a fun species to watch in late April and early May, when Western Grebes arrive and start pairing off.Lake Whitewood is a location that always has many dozens of breeding pairs. The Western Grebe is the largest North American member of the grebe family. Hear the call of the Western grebe. Western Grebes nest on marshes and lakes with stands of emergent vegetation, stable water levels, extensive areas of open water, and sufficient populations of prey fish. Habitat. Other names for this species include “swan grebe”, “dabchick” and “swan-necked grebe”. Also known to eat crustaceans, insects, polychaete worms, salamanders. Folks names embody “dabchick”, “swan grebe” and “swan-necked grebe”. In almost all aspects of behavior that have been studied, Clark's Grebe seems identical to Western Grebe. Common Name: Western Grebe. Overwhelmed and Understaffed, Our National Wildlife Refuges Need Help. Climb onto back of parent within minutes after hatching, soon leave nest; are fed by both parents. The Western Grebe is carnivorous, eating mostly insects and fish along with some mollusks and crustaceans. A typical diet consists of fish, mollusks, crabs and salamanders. Courtship displays elaborate and complex. Link (2017). Scientific Name(s): Aechmophorus occidentalis. Nesting in tidal areas is unusual. Until the 1980s, it was thought to be a pale morph of the western grebe, which it resembles in size, range, and behavior.Intermediates between the two species are known. It winters both along the seacoast and on major rivers. After the breeding season, many move first to lakes where they molt their wing feathers, becoming flightless during that period. Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski, K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. The western grebe is the largest North American grebe. They are seldom on land unless grounded during storms while migrating. The belly, bottom of the neck, and lower large of the face are white. The yellow bill is large and dagger-like. Common Name(s): Western Grebe, Western Dabchick, Swan Grebe, Swan-necked Grebe. Grebes breed on still or slow-moving bodies of fresh water. We protect birds and the places they need. When studying a grebe and trying to decide if it is a Clark's or western bird, there are a number of clues that can help distinguish each species. Winter plumaged Red-necked Grebes c an also look roughly similar to Western Grebes.