Monday, June 30, 2014

A Common Little Bird

The Pied-billed Grebe is a commonplace, small water bird that seems to attract little attention.  The adult is a little brown bird with a white bill that has a black ring.  They are rarely seen on land, and are strong divers.  I've never paid a lot of attention to them, at least, not until this week.

I was after images of Osprey with particular interest in the dramatic hovering overhead and the steep dive into the water.  Then I noted these three little water birds, clearly downy chicks.

 Aren't they cute?  The head and the beak told me they were Pied-billed Grebes. Until they moved, they looked like just so much floating debris.  Mother was nearby, and often diving underwater before returning to check on her chicks.

It soon was apparent that the fishing was pretty good right where I was.

She repeatedly surfaced with another sunfish and made the rounds to find which chick was ready for another meal.

That was quite a lot to swallow.  This continued with great regularity until none of the chicks would accept another fish.  Mother then fed herself, and things settled into a quiet routine of the chicks cruising about with the wise parent keeping watch as they explored the marsh.

In the future, I will offer more attention to the Pied-billed Grebe.  It is obviously a very swift and efficient fisher, and a good parent.  The chicks are precocious and cute, too.

Paul Schmitt

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