Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Length: 13″; Wingspan: 16″; Weight: 16 oz.
There are seven species of Grebes, but only four are mapped in Sibley’s as possible visitors to Seabrook Island. However, only one of the four seems to be common to the Island. That is the Pied-billed Grebe which may be seen bobbing around in our lagoons and lakes from October to March. They will not likely to ever be seen on land. This bird is compact, but shows a long neck. Their coloration is largely a camouflage mix of brown shades with the darkest feathers being on the upper side of the wings. While the stout beak is generally a yellowish brown, the male, in breeding plumage, has a silvery bill with a black ring around it. This multi-colored bill provides the basis for the name Pied-billed Grebe. These supurb swimmers and divers sit slightly low in the water and have lobed (as compared to webbed) feet. Because they are more at home under the water’s surface, they are of the now-you-see-em-now-you-don’t sort. Grebes slip underwater with little or no splash and can stay submerged for significant periods of time. They don’t usually pop up near where they dove. In contrast, Loons and Cormorants (both being long-necked swimmers and divers) are much larger and splashier birds.
Our lagoons and lakes, with the vegetated edges, provide favorite habitat. The diet consists of aquatic insects, small fish, amphibians, and crustaceans. On the other hand, they do not appear to be on the menu for the local alligator population. While I have not knowingly heard a Pied-billed Grebe call, the literature says they make a ‘gulping kuk-kuk-kuk‘ sound. Their summer nesting area extends northward from the Mason-Dixon line and into Canada.
Check out this short video of the Pied-billed Grebe
If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:
Article submitted by: George Haskins
Photographs provided by: Ed Konrad
This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents. When possible we will use photographs taken by our members. Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.