To get photographs from Phoenix resident Pete Moulton, I must see his work on his Facebook page and then beg him for some pictures for this site. The things I do for you readers! At any rate, Pete and I share a fondness for pie-billed grebes (Podilymbus podiceps), among the cutest of North American water birds (especially the chicks), and I asked him for some of his Facebook pictures of that species. He kindly complied, so here we go (his notes are indented):
The resident pair of adult Pied-billed Grebes at my favorite pond at Papago Park had an early brood this year, with four youngsters out and about–and fairly well grown–by mid-May, so it was a huge surprise to find this adult and freshly hatched youngster on 26 June. Freshly hatched juvenile grebes regularly ride on their parents’ backs, something that baby loons (aka divers) also do, but I’d never been able to photograph this behavior before. Too far away, too heavily cropped, and the light was poor, but the pose is compelling, and provides some hope for improvements.
Look at those cuties!
I’d thought it was the first one out of the nest, but no one’s seen the other adult, nor any additional babies. It’s a mystery. Anyway, being the only offspring, and having one whole parent to itself, the chick has grown rapidly, so that by 16 July it was nearly as large as the adult. It still begs for food incessantly, but the adult’s beginning to ignore the demands. During about 90 minutes of observation, the adult fed the chick a few morsels by regurgitation. Here’s the youngster at about three weeks of age:
Only once during the observation did the adult catch a crayfish, which the young bird immediately snatched away and devoured:
The little grebe has grown up to the point where it’s making short dives on its own, and it shouldn’t be too long now before it’s feeding itself.
Here’s the range of the pie-billed grebe shown on the Cornell bird site: