This small (perhaps two-thirds the size of a mallard) diving bird is recognizable by its chicken-like, light-colored bill.
I will keep an eye out for them and hope to have some better photos later. I am always delighted to discover something other than our typical mallards and Canada geese right here in central Northfield, and it would be wonderful if these birds choose this location for their breeding ground. Here are some more facts about the Pied-billed Grebe from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
- The Pied-billed Grebe is common on lakes and ponds across North America. It is rarely seen in flight. It prefers to escape predators by diving, and it migrates at night. However, it can fly, and stray individuals have reached Hawaii and Europe.
- Although it swims like a duck, the Pied-billed Grebe does not have webbed feet. Instead of having a webbing connecting all the toes, each toe has lobes extending out on the sides that provide extra surface area for paddling.
- The downy chicks can leave the nest soon after hatching, but they do not swim well at first and do not spend much time in the water in the first week. They sleep on the back of a parent, held close beneath its wings. By the age of four weeks, the young grebes are spending day and night on the water. For the first ten days their response to danger is to climb onto a parent's back. After that, when danger threatens, they dive under water.