I birded the lakefront in Milwaukee this morning for a couple hours and it was pretty quiet. The highlight of the morning was a Horned Grebe at Lakeshore State Park. The two Pied-billed Grebes that were present for the last two days were still hanging around at the park. Other species present, a couple of Double-crested Cormorants, lots of Palm Warblers and about 40 American Coots. Two large boats flushed this grebe from where we were at and I could not relocate the bird after that. Other than the wind gusts, it was a beautiful morning to be out birding. Images were taken on October 7, 2014.
Binomial name: Podiceps auritus
Size: 14” long, 18” wing span
Weight: 1 lb.
Habitat: Breeds on small to medium sized, vegetated areas of shallow freshwater ponds and marshes. The breeding range is from northern central US north to northern regions of Canada and Alaska.
Diet: In summer mostly feed on aquatic insects which they get off the top of the water. They also eat crustaceans which they get diving under water. In winter their diet includes fish, crustacean and small aquatic animals.
Nesting: The nest is a pile of wet plant material that is floating or sometimes on a rock. It is an open bowl and located near the water’s edge as this since the grebe legs are back far and they cannot walk well. The female lays 3-7 eggs white to light brown or light blue-green. The young are feed by both parents and can swim and dive usually the next day after hatching. The young often ride on the back of the parents back like loons do.
Cool Facts: This grebe eats some of its own feathers and they sit in their stomach and act as a filter and hold fish bones and other things till they are digested. One of the smaller grebes that is an excellent diver and swimmer that can stay under water for very long periods of time.