Pied-billed grebe

Pied-billed grebe

Along the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s common to spot oil rigs on the distant horizon or cruise ships as they approach the harbor. But if you shift your gaze away from the sea and toward a pond, estuary or freshwater marsh, you might just spot a submarine — with feathers. The pied-billed grebe is a diving bird which, as Michael Stein of birdnote.org states, “… is the master of its own buoyancy. It can squeeze out the air trapped in its feathers and internal air-sacs and sink effortlessly. As a consequence, grebes swim under water more easily than ducks, which must work hard to keep from popping back up to the surface.” As one would expect, pied-billed grebes leverage their diving abilities to stealthily evade predators and hunt for food.

FUN FACT: Pied-billed grebe nicknames include devil-diver, hell-diver and water witch. 

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