Pied-Billed Texan Grebes

Podilymbus podiceps

Given a full cycle of the seasons, Pied-Billed Grebes will show up anywhere in North America from southern-central Canada to Central America. In the USA they are year-round residents everywhere except New England and west through the Great Lakes to Montana and south to Kansas and Missouri and the northern Appalachians, from where they retreat south in winter.

They build floating nests of reeds and grasses among tall plants in water over 9 inches deep. If conditions are right, Pied-Billed Grebes may raise two broods a season. Habitat loss from wetland destruction is a threat to these birds. Over most of its range, the population are surviving well, but in New England they are threatened or endangered.

These grebes are relatively easy to find on ponds, lakes and slow moving streams, especially if they vocalize. They are capable of a variety of calls, and sometimes perform lively duets that can be heard at a great distance.

In Texas I met Pied-Billed Grebes while on the hunt for tall cranes in Aransas NWR. Elsewhere I’ve found them raising families in marshy wetlands across California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. To see the images of these family groups, visit the <Species Gallery>.

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