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Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus


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Horned Grebe, breeding
credit: black_throated_green_warbler/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Podicipedidae, Grebes view all from this family

Description ADULT In summer, has reddish orange neck and flanks. Back is black and black head is adorned with golden yellow plumes. In winter, has mainly black upperparts and white underparts. Note clear demarcation between black cap and white cheeks. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult.

Dimensions Length: 12-15" (30-38 cm)

Habitat Locally common. In breeding season, favors ponds and shallow lakes with abundant emergent vegetation. In winter, mainly coastal, but also on ice-free freshwater lakes in south.

Observation Tips In winter, search sheltered stretches of coast on calm days. Unobtrusive in breeding season, except when displaying in spring.

Range Southwest, Western Canada, New England, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Texas, Eastern Canada, Florida, Northwest, California, Alaska, Plains

Voice Utters territorial calls including various rattling trills and squeals.

Discussion Elegant waterbird that swims buoyantly and dives frequently in search of small fish and aquatic invertebrates. All birds have a beady red eye. Flattish crown and bill shape (both mandibles are curved) allow separation from similar Eared Grebe at all times; note also whitish tip to bill. In flight, wings show white patches on both leading and trailing edges. Sexes are similar.