SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

W.Grebes with babies on their backs

Both Western and Clark's Grebes engage in "back-brooding" of their young--after the young hatch, they climb onto their parent's back "within minutes of hatching" according to Birds of North America (BNA) online. They remain sheltered within the feathering on the back of either the mother or father, who take turns brooding the young.
As these pics show, the baby grebes will sometimes stick their heads up to look around. The hatchling grebes can be seen better by double-clicking on the pics to enlarge. I took these pics yesterday at Lake Henry, which is located north of La Junta. This year a vegetative mat formed on part of the lake and hundreds of Western and Clark's Grebes began nesting there.

Interestingly, when a parent is done with their turn at brooding, "the parent rises in water and flaps wings, young fall off and move to other parent. Adults may assist young in climbing back by holding one foot stiffly out on surface to rear, this used as foothold." (also from BNA)The non-brooding parent grebe catches fish and brings it to the brooding parent, a behavior I saw one time yesterday. SeEtta


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