Class, Order, and Family:
Class Aves, Order Podicipediformes, Family Podicipedidae.
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The Western grebe is a medium-sized water bird, the largest grebe in North America. It has a black back and face, a long neck, and a long, thin bill. The neck and underside are white. It shares similar features and behaviour with Clark’s grebe, which was only recently deemed a separate species.
It is 55-75 cm long, has a wingspan of 79-96 cm, and weighs 80-180 g. Females and males look the same.
The Western grebe call is a shrill whistle and a rolling croak.
Habitat: The Western grebe habitat consists of marshes, lakes, and bays. The Western Grebe will also seek sheltered seacoasts or riverbanks when it is migrating or during the winter.
Summer Range: The Western grebe breeds across the North American west and in Mexico.
Winter Range: The Western grebe winters off the Pacific Coast, from Alaska and British Columbia on the coast and in the southern interior, south to northwestern Mexico.
Food: The Western grebe eats mostly aquatic invertebrates and fish, including carp and herring, as well as the odd salamander. Young are fed adults’ feathers.
Breeding Behaviour: This grebe will breed in lakes and ponds across western North America and in Mexico. In Canada the Western grebe breeds in interior British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
During breeding, two or more birds will engage in elaborate displays that include a “weed dance,” during which males and females hold plants in their bills.
Nest Type and Egg Description: They nest in, or very close to, water deep enough for the bird to swim in completely submerged. The nest is anchored to or built up over living vegetation. It could be open or concealed.
The clutch size is three to five eggs, and they incubate for about 23 days. The young fledge at 63-77 days of age.
Conservation Status: The Western grebe has a large global population estimated to be 130,000 individuals, and is considered a species of least concern by the IUCN.
Information on this page compiled by Colleen Sutton.
BirdLife International. http://www.birdlife.org
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/eng/sct5/index_e.cfm
Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All About Birds. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/.
Ehrlich, Paul R. 1988. The Birder’s Handbook. Simon and Schuster, New York.
Godfrey, Earl W. 1986. Birds of Canada. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.
Hinterland Who’s Who. http://www.hww.ca
Leslie, Scott. 2006.
Wetland Birds of North America. Key Porter Books, Toronto. NatureServe. InfoNatura. http://www.natureserve.org/infonatura/
Birds, mammals, and amphibians of Latin America. 2004. Version 4.1 .
Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. Available:
http://www.natureserve.org/infonatura. (Accessed: May 8, 2007 ).