November 14, 2016

“feet at the buttocks”

A pied billed grebe, nonbreeding plumage.
Racing away from the pontoon boat as we drifted closer.
We try not to get too close but sometimes I miscalculate.

Podilymbus podiceps

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.

No comments: