Identical in size and shape to Clark's
Grebe, once considered to
be a lighter morph of the Western Grebe. Bill colors are slightly
different, and the Clark's Grebe has white both above and below the eye.
Note that in winter, facial patterns are nearly identical for both species,
making identification much more difficult. They breed across much of the
western United States and Canada, as well as in Mexico. Mating pairs of
Western Grebes perform a spectacular mating display, paddling furiously across
the surface in a very upright posture.
Habitat: Sloughs and shallow
lakes with emergent vegetation.
Diet: Mostly fish in all seasons.
Occasionally eats insects, crustaceans, and salamanders.
Behavior: Feeds by diving from the surface and
swimming underwater for prey, propelling itself by its feet. Western
Grebes are very gregarious, forming loose breeding colonies during the
summer, as well as forming close flocks in the winter.
Nesting: Late May through mid-July.
Song: Loud crick-kreek,
or harsh whistled c-r-r-ee-er-r-r-ee.
Migration: Most Western Grebes winter on
the Pacific Coast, with smaller numbers on interior waters in the Southwest and
yet smaller numbers along the western Gulf Coast.
Similar Species: Clark's
Grebe. See ID Key's
for Western vs. Clark's Grebe. Winter
plumage Red-necked Grebes can also look
roughly similar to Western Grebes.
Status: Generally stable through most of
it's range. However, there is some evidence that they're susceptible to
various environmental toxins such as insecticides, and that accumulation of
these materials in a bird's system can result in dramatically reduced breeding
Whatbird.com: Western Grebe
Photo Information: April 19th, 2007 - Point Reyes
National Seashore, California - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Western Grebe photos.