Least GrebeTachybaptus dominicus
- ORDER: Podicipediformes
- FAMILY: Podicipedidae
The Least Grebe is a tiny, almost metallic gray waterbird with a brilliant golden eye and a tuft of white at the stern. These chunky-bodied grebes spend their time in shallow freshwater or brackish ponds (and even flooded ditches) where they hunt insects and frogs. Completely at home in the water, they sometimes hide out with the body submerged and only the bill out of the water, almost like a tiny alligator. These birds are fairly common in tropical wetlands but reach the United States only in South Texas.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Small, vegetation-choked ponds in the tropics are the best place to find Least Grebes. To see one in the U.S. you'll need to visit southern Texas, especially the Lower Rio Grande Valley, where they are relatively common. There they favor oxbow lakes (known locally as resacas) but may turn up in almost any small freshwater wetland with some open water. Look for Pied-billed and Eared Grebes, Common Gallinules, American Coots, and Ruddy Ducks in these places as well.
- Zampullín Macacito (Spanish)
- Grèbe minime (French)
- Cool Facts
- On very hot days, Least Grebes may use their wings to cool eggs in their nest. They stand at the edge of the nest, facing outward, and rapidly flap the wings for a minute or more.
- The concept of "wing loading" applies to both aircraft and birds and affects how they fly. Wing loading is the weight of the bird (or plane) divided by its wing area. Heavy birds with high wing loading, such as California Condors, are very steady in flight but have a hard time taking off. By contrast, the Least Grebe is light and has large wings for its size; this low wing loading means it is able to take flight from the water much more easily than heavier birds like grebes, coots, and loons.
- The Least Grebe sunbathes by facing away from the sun, closing its wings and tipping them upward on its back. It fluffs out its body and head feathers. The skin underneath these raised feathers is blackish and helps to absorb the sun's rays.
- The Least Grebe can hide underwater with only its bill showing above the surface.