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Western Grebe

ID Info
Silhouette GrebesGrebes
Western GrebeAechmophorus occidentalis
  • ORDER: Podicipediformes
  • FAMILY: Podicipedidae

Basic Description

Setting off crisp black-and-white plumage with a yellow bill and red eye, the slender Western Grebe is an elegant presence on lakes and ocean coasts of western North America. Along with its close relative, the Clark’s Grebe, it’s renowned for a ballet-like courtship display in which male and female “run” across the water in synchrony, their long necks curved in an S-shape. These waterbirds rarely come ashore, instead taking long dives to catch fish and other aquatic animals.

More ID Info
image of range map for Western Grebe
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

In summer, look for Western Grebes on relatively deep inland lakes with marshy edges. For instance, Klamath Lake, Oregon, hosts dozens of breeding pairs (as well as Clark’s Grebes). In the nonbreeding season most Western Grebes migrate to the Pacific Coast (although some remain on inland lakes). They stay fairly close to shore, making it easy to get good views of this handsome grebe, especially if you have access to a spotting scope.

Other Names

  • Achichilique Común (Spanish)
  • Grèbe élégant (French)
  • Cool Facts