Reader’s wildlife videos

Reader Rick Longworth sent in three videos and an illustrative photo (not his). Rick’s notes are indented:

At the end of August, I was involved as a volunteer with some research being done on the western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) on Lowell Lake in Idaho. The project involved keeping a running count of the number of grebes in the lake.  These birds are declining over the continent.  We drove an outboard motorboat around the perimeter of the lake with one volunteer counting toward shore and the other toward the center of the lake.  The entire circuit took about 4 hours. I was limited in how much filming I could do since the count is a busy one. We recorded 1,500 adults and juvenile birds – doing very well, thank you. The young juveniles sometimes ride on the back of a parent and sometimes are free-swimming nearby. The grebe cannot fly during breeding. Feathers molt and muscles atrophy.  They are a distinct order, Podicipediformes, and are not closely related to ducks and geese, or loons. Strangely, grebes share much morphology in common with flamingos.
Grebes have lobed feet which allow diving for fish, as seen here on a pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps). Photo credit – Macaulay Library.
Look at those feet!

The film includes shots of the closely related Clark’s grebe (Aechmophorus clarkia), once thought to be the same species as the western, also included in our count. The Clark’s grebe can be distinguished by white just above as well as below the eye and by a grayish back.

There are many California Quail (Callipepla californica) in the area (southeastern Idaho) and they visit our yard frequently. We were lucky to have chicks on the lawn recently. The adults have a tassel made of six feathers that droops forward. The male has well-defined black and white markings while the female has less definition, colored mostly in brown.

Canada geese (Branta canadensis) take off from the Snake River. 9 AM, September 2.

 

10 Comments

  1. Posted September 16, 2019 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Love the baby quail

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 16, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    That’s a great photo of the grebe showing his foot.

  3. Posted September 16, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Truly beautiful!

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 16, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Very good! Thank you Rick

  5. Posted September 16, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Glorious grebes! Thanks.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted September 16, 2019 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. Love them feets.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted September 16, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Grebes in decline? Add it to the list I guess. 😦

    Thanks for the nice videos. Growing up for a time in Reno, NV, I saw California quail quite often. Never tire of the lovely birds. I’ve never seen their chicks though. Very cute!

    • rickflick
      Posted September 16, 2019 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Part of the ongoing research on western grebes is to determine why in some lakes in Idaho, fertility is quite low. Once lake nearby had only 24 juveniles this summer, whereas Lake Lowell has hundreds.

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 16, 2019 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Lovely Rick!

    • rickflick
      Posted September 16, 2019 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the clips.


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