A Grebe Adventure9:14 PM
I had an interesting bird experience today that I wanted to share. As a birder and naturalist sometimes I get calls from friends and family about their wildlife encounters. Today I got one of those calls.
My Uncle called me today, to tell me that he had a strange bird in his backyard. The bird was sitting by their fence and not moving much. He described the bird over the phone as duck-like, with shorter legs, a yellow bill, white belly and gray back. I assumed that the bird was most likely some kind of misplaced domestic duck, as their house is on a fairly typical urban street with a large, but fairly standard backyard. I was a little puzzled by a duck being in his backyard when they don't have any access to water, but it wasn't totally out of the question. When I got to their house to have a look at the bird I was shocked at what I saw…
|What is that by the fence?|
…a Red-necked Grebe. My uncle was spot-on with the markings, as the bird was in its winter plumage. The grebe was sitting on top of the snow beside their fence. I took a few photos and approached the bird slowly. It moved slightly when I approached; but didn’t go too far.
|A Red-necked Grebe!|
I called a couple of friends to get their opinions on the matter and concluded that the bird probably couldn’t take flight off of the snow. So, I needed to capture the bird and take it to open water, where these birds spend most of their lives. After checking that our local lake still had open water, I put on some gloves and approached the bird. I threw a towel over the grebe and gently grabbed the bird restraining the wings.
Once captured, I took off the towel to make sure the bird looked healthy. It then managed to quickly nip my nose with its long beak (nice aim!), even while I was holding it neck. Their neck is deceptively long and can stretch out quite far. After capturing the bird, I put it inside of a box with some towels and drove to our local lake.
When I got out of the car I was greeted by about 30 mallards which were hanging out in the open water. I walked a few steps into the water and placed the grebe down gently in the water. It was gone before I blinked and immediately began diving and swimming as grebes do, like nothing had happened in the first place.