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Grebes

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Old Thursday 27th December 2012, 21:21   #1
Twofish
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Grebes

Hello Birders.
I do not consider myself a birder or bird watcher but, as a fisherman, I am interested in bird behavior. Birds make great fish finders if you know how to use them.
Most of the lakes that I visit have healthy populations of Western Grebes. I'm sure there are some Clark's Grebes in the mix too but differentiating between the two is not important to me.
I have done some research on the internet and most of the articles I have read say that Grebes are migratory.
I have two reasons for not believing this.
First, the grebes are ALWAYS at the lake. Doesn't matter what time of year, the grebes are there.
Second, in all the years I have been watching the grebes I have never, ever seen one take to wing or foot. They are always in the water.
I cannot find a picture of a grebe in flight anywhere on the internet but I did find one picture of a grebe on foot.

I am convinced that these birds never leave the body of water in which they were born.

I would like to hear what the birding community has to say about the grebe.

Thank you.
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Old Thursday 27th December 2012, 22:18   #2
jmepler
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Hi Twofish, welcome to the forum.

The reason that the grebes are always at your lake is because most of California is in the year-round range for both Western and Clark's Grebes. They do move to the north and east during breeding season and to the south in the winter but you are in the middle where they can be found all year.

I can also assure you that they can and do fly. We recently had a Western Grebe here in central Pennsylvania.

It does seem to me that if grebes find a lake that they like they tend to stick around.

Mike
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Old Thursday 27th December 2012, 23:06   #3
Twofish
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Thanks Mike.
The lake sits at about 800' above sea level and the climate is fairly mild. The only reason for them to leave would be a lack of food, which rarely happens. The lake has a healthy population of threadfin shad.
Considering the amount of time I have spent on the water, since childhood, it just seems odd that I have NEVER seen a grebe out of water.

I see them with babies riding on their backs so they definitely breed there.
Do they build nests?
I've never noticed them relating to structure of any sort, either floating or fixed.

Last edited by Twofish : Thursday 27th December 2012 at 23:09.
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Old Friday 28th December 2012, 01:15   #4
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They do build a floating nest most of the time. It is usually attached to a submerged object or anchored to vegetation. You can read more about it here.

We get mostly Pied-billed Grebes here. I do see them making short flights, but they are not nearly as efficient at swimming as Western Grebes are. I was amazed at the amount of lake the Western Grebe here covered, and how quickly it did it. Maybe it is less effort for them to swim than fly, unless it is a long distance?
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