Living Bird Magazine
Eared GrebePodiceps nigricollis
- ORDER: Podicipediformes
- FAMILY: Podicipedidae
The most abundant grebe in the world, the Eared Grebe breeds in shallow wetlands in western North America. It occurs in greatest numbers on Mono Lake and the Great Salt Lake in fall, where it doubles its weight in preparation for a nonstop flight to its wintering grounds in the southwestern United States and Mexico.More ID Info
- Zampullín Cuellinegro (Spanish)
- Grèbe à cou noir (French)
- Cool Facts
- At its fall staging areas, the Eared Grebe more than doubles its weight. The pectoral (chest) muscles shrink to the point of flightlessness, the digestive organs grow significantly, and great fat deposits accumulate. Then before departure for migration, the digestive organs shrink back to about one-fourth their peak size and the heart and pectoral muscles grow quickly.
- A cycle similar to that of the fall staging areas occurs three to six times each year for the Eared Grebe. For perhaps nine to ten months each year the species is flightless; this is the longest flightless period of any bird in the world capable of flight at all.
- The Eared Grebe migrates only at night. Because of the length of its fall staging, its southward fall migration is the latest of any bird species in North America.
- On cold, sunny mornings, the Eared Grebe, like some other grebe species, sunbathes by facing away from the sun and raising its rump, exposing dark underlying skin to light. This behavior may make the bird appear to have a distinctive "high-stern" profile.
- The oldest recorded Eared Grebe was at least 6 years, 9 months old when it was found in California in 1992, the same state where it had been banded.