24 Aug The Pied-billed Grebe is a Feather Eater!
|Pied-billed Grebe by Rick Heil|
I’ve seen a Pied-billed Grebe at the salt pannes a few times on the Refuge recently. I introduced the bird to a new birder on Thursday evening. Grebes do fascinate me!
Gill’s “Ornithology” mentions “…grebes have high wing loading. To take off, they must run over the water, flapping their wings to gain enough lift for flight.” Lots of energy is expended to take flight; an apprehensive grebe will dive, sink or swim to escape predators. Once while foraging in vegetation a grebe sunk and revealed only its bill above water; I thought of a submarine, a ship that can operate both under and on top of the water,
and that bill was the periscope.
“The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior” notes “The feathers may protect the stomach from puncture by indigestible parts of the grebe’s prey and prevent hard items from entering the intestines. They also provide the base material of regurgitated pellets that contain undigested material such as fish bones.”