Pied-billed Grebe

Podilymbus podiceps

Picture of a pied-billed grebe
Image by ‘Dori’ on Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Physical: Pied-billed grebes are small, compact birds named for the black vertical stripe on their pale-blue bills. They have grey and brown plumage, with white feathers on the underside of their tails. Juveniles have white streaks on their faces. You may sometimes see pied-billed grebes riding low in the water, with only their tail, neck, and head visible.

Habitat: During the year, pied-billed grebes prefer ponds, lakes and marshes. In the winter, they move toward estuaries and coastal bays. Their range covers from Canada to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of South America. While northern populations migrate, the pied-billed grebes in the Barnegat Bay are here year round.

Feeding: Pied-billed grebes are opportunistic feeders; they eat whatever they can get, depending on the place and season. This includes insects, crustaceans, small fish, leeches, molluscs, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, spiders, and some aquatic plants. Like other grebes, they also swallow their own feathers. They feed by diving into the water for food.

Breeding: Pied-billed grebes pair up by singing to each other. Mating pairs build a floating nest together out of plant material, anchoring it to marsh vegetation. Females lay 4-7 pale blue-white eggs which turn brown over time. The pair incubates them together for 23 days. You may sometimes see adult grebes carrying their young on their backs.

Connect with Us

Sign up for email or connect through social media.