Friday, March 16, 2007

Pied-billed Grebe

The Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps, †) is a associate of the grebe family of water birds. Since the Atitlan Grebe, Podilymbus gigas, has become wiped out, it is the sole extant member of the genus Podilymbus.
The Pied-billed Grebe breeds across Canada, parts of the United States and temperate South America. though this species does not appear to be a strong flier, it has occurred in Europe as a rare vagrant on a number of occasions, and one bird in England bred by means of a Little Grebe, producing hybrid young.
The most widespread of North American grebes, it is found on remote ponds, marshes, and sluggish streams. It is frequently the first grebe to arrive on northern inland waters in springtime, and the last to leave in autumn. It is rare on salt water. This grebe rarely flies, preferring to escape danger by diving.
It feeds on fish (carp, catfish, eels), insects (dragonflies, ants, beetles), and amphibians (frogs, tadpoles).
The Pied-billed Grebe is small at 31-38 cm (12"-15") in length, stocky, and short-necked. It has a short, blunt chicken-like bill, which in summer is encircled by a broad black band (hence the name). It is the only grebe that does not show a white wing patch in flight.
This grebe is typically silent, except in breeding season when the male voices a loud, laughing cuck, cuck, cuck or cow, cow, cow.
Folk names of this grebe include dabchick, devil-diver, dive-dapper, hell-diver, and water witch

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