Sunday Inspiration – Grebe Family

 

Pied-Billed Grebe at Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland, FL by Dan

Pied-Billed Grebe at Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland, FL by Dan

“The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.” (Psalms 111:2 KJV)

Our inspirations today come from the Podicipedidae Family, which is the only family in the Podicipediformes Order. All 23 species are called a Grebe. [This is a switch from many families.] Within the family there six genera: Tachybaptus (6), Podilymbus (2), Rollandia (2), Poliocephalus (2), Podiceps (9) and the Aechmophorus (2). Of these species, three have become extinct; the Alaotra Grebe, Atitlan Grebe, and the Colombian Grebe. “Grebes are a widely distributed order of freshwater diving birds, some of which visit the sea when migrating and in winter.”

As I start this article, we have only seen about three or four of these family members. The most popular in this area is the Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps). All About Birds had these two “Cool Facts“:

  • “The Latin genus name for “grebe” means “feet at the buttocks”—an apt descriptor for these birds, whose feet are indeed located near their rear ends. This body plan, a common feature of many diving birds, helps grebes propel themselves through water. Lobed (not webbed) toes further assist with swimming. Pied-billed Grebes pay for their aquatic prowess on land, where they walk awkwardly.
  • Pied-billed Grebe [and other Grebe] chicks typically leave the nest the first day after hatching and spend much of their first week riding around on a parent’s back. They usually spend most of their first 3 weeks on or near the nest platform.”
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 4 with chick

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 4

Grebes are small to medium-large in size, have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. Although they can run for a short distance, they are prone to falling over, since they have their feet placed far back on the body. Bills vary from short and thick to long and pointed, depending on the diet, which ranges from fish to freshwater insects and crustaceans. The feet are always large, with broad lobes on the toes and small webs connecting the front three toes. The hind toe also has a small lobe. Recent experimental work has shown that these lobes work like the hydrofoil blades of a propeller.

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Grebes have narrow wings, and some species are reluctant to fly; indeed, two South American species are completely flightless. They respond to danger by diving rather than flying, and are in any case much less wary than ducks. Extant species range in size from the least grebe, at 120 grams (4.3 oz) and 23.5 cm (9.3 inches), to the great grebe, at 1.7 kg (3.8 lbs) and 71 cm (28 inches).

Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) With Foot sticking out ©WikiC

The North American and Eurasian species are all, of necessity, migratory over much or all of their ranges, and those species that winter at sea are also seen regularly in flight. Even the small freshwater pied-billed grebe of North America has occurred as a transatlantic vagrant to Europe on more than 30 occasions.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) with babies ©WikiC

Tachybaptus is a genus of small members of the grebe family birds. The genus name is from Ancient Greek takhus “fast” and bapto “to sink under”. It has representatives over much of the world, including the tropics.

Alaotra Grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus), Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Tricolored Grebe (Tachybaptus tricolor), Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae), Madagascan Grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii), Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)

 

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) chick ©WikiC

is a genus of birds in the Podicipedidae family, containing the extinct Atitlán grebe (Podilymbus gigas) and the pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps).The genus name is derived from Latin Podilymbus, a contraction of podicipes (“feet at the buttocks”, from podici-, “rump-” + pes, “foot”)—the origin of the name of the grebe order—and Ancient Greek kolymbos, “diver”.

Titicaca Grebe (Rollandia microptera) ©WikiC

Rollandia is a small genus of birds in the grebe family. Its two members are found in South America. They are: White-tufted Grebe (Rollandia rolland) and Titicaca Grebe (Rollandia microptera).

Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) ©WikiC

Poliocephalus is a small genus of birds in the grebe family. Its two members are found in Australia and New Zealand. They are: Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) and New Zealand Grebe (Poliocephalus rufopectus).

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) With partner ©WikiC

Podiceps is a genus of birds in the grebe family. The genus name comes from Latin podicis, “vent” and pes, “foot”, and is a reference to the placement of a grebe’s legs towards the rear of its body. It has representatives breeding in Europe, Asia, North, and South America. Most northern hemisphere species migrate in winter to the coast or warmer climates.

Great Grebe (Podiceps major), Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena), Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus), Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), Colombian Grebe (Podiceps andinus), Silvery Grebe (Podiceps occipitalis), Junin Grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii) and Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi).

Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) with chicks ©WikiC

Aechmophorus is a genus of birds in the grebe family. It has two living representatives breeding in western North America; the Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii).

Clark’s Grebe (L) and a Western Grebe (R) collide ©WikiC

The western grebe has a straight bill with a dull green-yellow color as opposed to the Clark’s grebe, which has a slightly upturned, bright orange-yellow bill. In both species the male has a longer and deeper bill than that of the female, making it a distinguishing feature. All species of grebes display the pattern of lobed feet. A tough skin surrounds each toe separately, providing more surface area for effective swimming. This form increases the power of propulsion per stroke and reduces drag when the bird is recovering.

Western and Clark’s grebes take part in a courtship display known as mate feeding. This occurs regularly between a mated pair during the period prior to hatching of nestlings. In both species mate feeding appears to peak shortly before egg laying and involves the male providing large quantities of food to the begging female. Pairs will also engage in a spectacular display, by rearing up and “rushing” across the surface of the water side by side, making a loud pattering sound with their feet.

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“He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.” (Psalms 111:4 KJV)

“He is God” ~ by 3 Plus 1 Quartet, Faith Baptist

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More Sunday Inspirations

Sharing The Gospel

 

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Great Crested Grebe

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Great Crested Grebe ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 6/20/15

I’m going to weave a tangled web of French connections around this bird of the week, but the first and most important is that in honour of Loïc, my great nephew and first child of my niece Jeannine and her husband Carlos who live in Strasbourg in Alsace. He was due today, but arrived safe and well four days early.

Clearly, a bird photographed in France was required but the choice was very limited: Carrion Crow, Common Coot or Great Crested Grebe. The latter was bird of the week in July 2007, so I toyed with the idea of Coot but, given that in the British Isles people say ‘you silly coot’ in the same tone that Australian say ‘you silly galah’ I decided that coot was better saved for a non-dedicated bird of the week.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by Ian

So here is an elegant grebe in non-breeding plumage in a park near where my niece lives in Strasbourg last October. She took my sister Gillian and I there to look for some White Storks that had been nesting there, but they had already left for the winter so the grebes and coots attracted my attention instead. If my sums are correct in working back from today’s date, little Loïc would have been with us too, though probably not much older than the egg in the nest in the second photo. This egg was probably freshly laid, as Great Crested Grebes usually lay 3 or 4 eggs. Maybe it arrived early too, as the parent is busy adding nesting material to the structure.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanThis nest was on Lake Alexandrina on the South Island of New Zealand, so it’s apparent that this species has a huge range extending from Ireland in the West and all the way through Eurasia to Australasia and in northern and southern Africa. It is however absent from the tropical regions of Africa and various tropical areas of Asia such as Indonesia.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanThe third photo shows one of the New Zealand birds in full breeding plumage with the elongated crest and head plumes that give it scientific (cristatus), English and French name Grèbe Huppé. I’ll come back to huppé later. The 2007 bird of the week photos were of some breeding birds in Portugal and here is another one from that series: proud parent with two gorgeous striped youngsters. As this posting is celebrating a new family, I’d like to think that the photo is prophetic and that Loïc can look forward to a lovely sibling in due course.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanGreat Crested Grebes mostly feed on fish, quite large ones at that, but this one Portugese one, fifth photo, has seized this hapless frog, whose expression seems a rather sad combination of pleading for help and accepting its fate.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanAnother French connection is that I’m on a flight to New Caledonia and had thought that I would be on French territory when Loïc arrived, but he decided not to wait but I will try and skype the happy trio from Noumea.

I mentioned a few weeks ago, that our primary target is the very special Kagu, a rare, crested pigeon-sized terrestrial species endemic to New Caledonia. It’s taxonomically special too, being the only member of its family (Rhynchochetidae) and belong to an order that has only one distant relative, the Sunbittern of South America (according to Birdlife International).

The Kagu is crested too, so it’s French name is – you’ve guessed it, go to the top of the class – Kagou huppé. Huppé is slang in French for upper crust, smart, posh which seems highly appropriate. So, as usual I’m relying on your spiritual and moral support to produce au autre oiseau huppé for the next bird of the week. Joy and I have booked a guide at Rivière Bleue National Park next Tuesday, its main breeding locality and pride and joy of the park.

Forty one minutes to go before we reach Noumea.
Greetings
Ian

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Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates


Lee’s Addition:

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

That frog is in total shock. Yiiikess! He is thinking! What a great capture of all them, Ian. Thanks again for sharing these weekly birds of the week.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Little Grebe

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 1

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Little Grebe ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 7/22/12

When I was in Dublin – I’m now back home in North Queensland – and we were waiting for the arrival of my niece’s baby, we used to take the dogs for a walk in nearby Bushy Park along the River Dodder. In the park, there is a large artificial pond with an island and I soon found this Little Grebe or ‘Dabchick’ patiently incubating eggs on her nest.

Grebes are usually fairly shy, so a nesting one is a good photo opportunity as they build their floating nests in the open in shallow water. The nest is anchored to submerged vegetation and branches and the fact that it is floating gives it some protection from changing water levels after rain, for example. The second photo was taken on the 26 June, the day when my niece’s daughter finally arrived.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 2

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 2

It was a while before I could check the progress of the Little Grebe again and when we returned on the 9th June, third photo, the nest had vanished and, as there had been some bad weather in the meantime, I feared the worst. Both adults were still present but there was no obvious sign of any chicks. However, if you look carefully at this bird, you’ll see that the left wing is slightly raised and not folded flat.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 3

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 3

The reason for this became clear when the bird turned around, revealing a chick carefully tucked away under the wing.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 4 with chick

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 4

The fourth photo was taken on the same day. We returned again 4 days later and I saw only the one adult and no chick but there is plenty of cover around the island and I may have missed it.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 5 with chick

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian 5

Any Australian birders would immediately notice the similarity between the Eurasian Little Grebe and the Australasian Grebe. They can be distinguished in breeding plumage by the amount of rufous on the neck, throat and breast. These are rufous in the Little Grebe (hence the specific name ruficollis) but the throat and breast of the Australasian Grebe are black as in the fifth photo. Other distinguishing field marks are the yellow, rather than reddish-brown, iris and the greater amount of white under the tail of the Australasian Grebe, though the latter is not evident in this photo.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

These are fairly trivial differences and for a long time the two were treated as conspecific. However, the ranges of the two overlap in New Guinea (are ‘sympatric’) and it is usual to treat them as separate species with the Little Grebe being widespread throughout Eurasia and Africa and the Australasian Grebe occurring in New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

Best wishes

Ian
**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates
**************************************************


Lee’s Addition:

I love the photos of the little one riding under the wing of the parent. Of course that brings to mind several verses.

Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, (Psalms 17:8 KJV)

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. (Psalms 36:7 KJV)

He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. (Psalms 91:4 NKJV)

We see the Pied-billed Grebe and the Horned Grebe here. It would be neat to see those two that Ian had the privilege of seeing. The Grebes belong to the Podicipedidae family. There are 23 Grebes worldwide.

See more:

Ian’s Bird of the Week articles.

Podicipedidae – Grebes Family

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Birds Vol 1 #4 – The Piedbill Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe from Col F. M. Woodruff.for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography

Pied-billed Grebe from Col F. M. Woodruff.for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. April, 1897 No. 4

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THE PIEDBILL GREBE.

Boys and Girls:

This is the first time I’ve been on land for several weeks. I am sure you can’t think of any other kind of bird who can say that.

Sometimes I don’t go on land for months, but stay in the water all of the time—eat and sleep there, floating around.

My little chick wanted me to go on land so we could have our pictures taken.

If he were not sitting so close to me you could see better what paddles I have for feet.

I build my nest of weeds, grass, sticks, and anything I can find floating around. I most always fasten it to some reeds or tall grass that grow up out of the water.

In this I lay the eggs and just as soon as the chicks come out of the shell they can swim. Of course they can’t swim as well as I and they soon get tired. Do you know how I rest them?

Well, it’s very funny, but I just help them up on my back and there they rest while I swim around and get them food. When they get rested they slide off into the water.

Are you wondering if I can fly? Well, I can fly a little but not very well. I can get along very fast swimming, and as I do not go on land often, why should I care to fly.

Should any one try to harm me I can dive, and swim under water out of reach.

Well, chick, let us go back to our home in the water.

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) nest ©USFWS

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) nest ©USFWS


THE PIEDBILL GREBE.

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EMBERS of the family of Grebes are to be found in the temperate zones of both hemispheres, beyond which they do not extend very far either to the north or south. They are usually found on ponds or large sheets of stagnant water, sometimes on deep, slow-moving streams; but always where sedges and rushes are abundant. Probably there are no birds better entitled to the name of water fowl than the Grebes—at least, observers state that they know of no others that do not on some occasions appear on dry land. It is only under the most urgent circumstances, as, for instance, when wounded, that they approach the shore, and even then they keep so close to the brink that on the slightest alarm they can at once plunge into the water. Whatever they do must be done in the water; they cannot even rise upon the wing without a preliminary rush over the surface of the lake. From dry land they cannot begin their flight. Their whole life is spent in swimming and diving. They even repose floating upon the water, and when thus asleep float as buoyantly as if they were made of cork, the legs raised to the edges of the wings, and the head comfortably buried among the feathers between the back and shoulder. Should a storm arise, they at once turn to face the blast, and are usually able, with their paddle-like feet, to maintain themselves in the same place. They dive with great facility, and make their way more swiftly when under water than when swimming at the top. When flying the long neck is stretched out straight forwards and the feet backwards. In the absence of any tail, they steer their course by means of their feet. When alarmed they instantly dive.

Their food consists of small fishes, insects, frogs, and tadpoles. Grebes are peculiar in their manner of breeding. They live in pairs, and are very affectionate, keeping in each other’s company during their migrations, and always returning together to the same pond. The nest is a floating one, a mass of wet weeds, in which the eggs are not only kept damp, but in the water. The weeds used in building the nests are procured by diving, and put together so as to resemble a floating heap of rubbish, and fastened to some old upright reeds. The eggs are from three to six, at first greenish white in color, but soon become dirty, and are then of a yellowish red or olive-brown tint, sometimes marbled.

The male and female both sit upon the nest, and the young are hatched in three weeks. From the first moment they are able to swim, and in a few days to dive. Having once quitted the nest they seldom return to it, a comfortable resting and sleeping place being afforded them on the backs of their parents. “It is a treat to watch the little family as now one, now another of the young brood, tired with the exertion of swimming or of struggling against the rippling water, mount as to a resting place on their mother’s back; to see how gently, when they have recovered their strength, she returns them to the water; to hear the anxious, plaintive notes of the little warblers when they have ventured too far from the nest; to see their food laid before them by the old birds; or to witness the tenderness with which they are taught to dive.”

Pied-Billed Grebe at Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland, FL by Dan

Pied-Billed Grebe at Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland Young by Dan


Lee’s Addition:

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21 NKJV)

Here is another of the Lord’s neat little birds that He has created and designed to live most of the time in water. I always enjoy watching the Grebes. They dive down and then pop up who-knows-where. They stay down awhile and travel underwater, as the article mentioned. Pied-billed Grebes are here in this area, central Flordia, year round.

The Pied-billed Grebe is small, stocky, and short-necked. It is 31–38 centimeters (12–15 in) in length, it has a wingspan of 45–62 cm (18–24 in) and weighs 253–568 grams (8.9–20.0 oz). It is usually brown or gray in color. It has a short, blunt chicken-like bill, which in summer is encircled by a broad black band (hence the name). It is the only grebe that does not show a white wing patch in flight. The sexes are monomorphic (meaning no sexual dimorphism). (Wikipedia)

They belong to the Grebes – Podicipedidae Family. It has 22 members. The ones in North America are:

Clark’s Grebe by Dave’s BirdingPix
Eared Grebe (Black-Necked) by Dave’s Birding Pix
Horned Grebe ©USFWS
Least Grebe by Dave’s BirdingPix
Pied-billed Grebe by Ian
Red-necked Grebe by Ray Barlow
Western Grebe by Ian

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 April 1897 No 4 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for April 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Bohemian Wax-Wing

Previous Article – The California Woodpecker

Wordless Birds

Links:

Pied-billed Grebe – What Bird

Pied-billed Grebe – All About Birds

Pied-billed Grebe – Wikipedia

Ad for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Ad for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

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