Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another mystery solved

For years I've been hearing a haunting bird call on Lake Ralphine but have never been able to see what bird made the call. A couple of weeks ago I was sketching some geese when two small birds popped out of the water and began to make the call, right before my very eyes and ears, solving one of my most difficult, long-standing cold cases! That day, they were actively feeding which meant they spent most of the time underwater. I did some rapid sketches each time they surfaced, enough to identify them as Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps), but not enough to really get a good look.

Today, as I walked around Lake Ralphine, I was lucky enough to see one floating aimlessly in a shallow area giving me the opportunity to make a few sketches. Pied-billed grebes, besides having a mouthful of a name, are common birds throughout North America and much of South America. They prefer diving to flying and rarely take to the air. I was lucky to work on identifying the grebe during breeding, as the mark on the beak and black throat are part of breeding plumage.


  1. I love grebe talk! And your description of solving the mysterious call is wonderful. Grebes and coots keep many a thicket of cattails wild and wonderful.

    You captured their fluffy rumps and poor excuse of a tail. Well done.

  2. Your persistence in identifying the source of that weird call paid off -- terrific detail on those (also slightly weird) beaks and tails.