October 27, 2014

Pied-billed grebe

We went to the hawk watch at Holiday Beach in southern Ontario on the weekend.
There weren't a lot of birds passing through but we did find four pied-billed grebes in the marsh which is adjacent to the tower.

Podilymbus podiceps 

These are brown birds, slightly darker above and more tawny-brown on the underparts. During spring and summer, the crown and nape are dark and the throat is black. While breeding, the bill is whitish with a black band (“pied’), but otherwise is yellow-brown. Juveniles have striped faces.

Like other grebes, the Pied-billed Grebe eats large quantities of its own feathers. Feathers may at times fill up more than half of a grebe’s stomach, and they are sometimes fed to newly hatched chicks. The ingested plumage appears to form a sieve-like plug that prevents hard, potentially harmful prey parts from passing into the intestine, and it helps form indigestible items into pellets which they can regurgitate.

The longest-lived Pied-billed Grebe on record was at least 4 years, 7 months old and was banded in California.

source Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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