Living Bird Magazine
Clark's GrebeAechmophorus clarkii
- ORDER: Podicipediformes
- FAMILY: Podicipedidae
One of North America’s two marvelously elegant, black-and-white grebes, Clark’s Grebe is a bird of Western lakes and coastlines. Its sinuous neck and angular head give it an almost snakelike air, and its elaborate “rushing ceremony”—a courtship display it shares with its close relative, the Western Grebe—can make it look as if ballet dancers have taken to the water. Search large, inland lakes in summer and ocean shores in winter to find this species, which can occur alongside the more numerous and extremely similar Western Grebe.More ID Info
Find This Bird
During the breeding season, look for Clark’s Grebes on freshwater lakes with marshy edges. In the winter, they move to coastal waters along the Pacific Coast, where they may occur alongside Western Grebes—so look for Clark’s more yellow-orange bill. A spotting scope is useful for obtaining good views of this handsome grebe. If you don’t have one, join a bird walk as the leader will usually carry one.
- Achichilique de Clark (Spanish)
- Grèbe à face blanche (French)
- Cool Facts
- Western and Clark’s Grebes were considered the same species until 1985, after scientists learned that the two species rarely interbreed (despite sometimes living on the same lakes), make different calls, and have substantial DNA differences.
- One study in Oregon found that Clark’s foraged at greater distances from shore than Western Grebes inhabiting the same lake.