Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Podiceps
Species: Podiceps auritus



By Mike Baird [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 Podiceps auritus, or the Horned Grebe, is a small migratory waterbird that averages around 13 inches in length and weighs around 1lb (Konter 2001). It has a long neck and a darkly colored, short, thin, pointed bill with a light-colored tip (Stedman 2000). This grebe is most familiar to the people of the Pacific Northwest while in its winter plumage (pictured above), at which time it can be identified by its bright white throat, cheeks, chest, and underbelly with contrasting dark brownish black sides, back, and crown area. The flashes of white make the bird very visible against the water, but due to the fact that they spend most of the day so far from shore binoculars are almost always necessary in order to make a positive identification (Pers. Obs; Stedman 2000).

By Mark Medcalf (Red Eye Uploaded by snowmanradio) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

During the spring mating season the Horned Grebe acquires a more distinctive and exciting plumage (pictured to the right). At this time it can be identified by its chestnut colored fore-neck, upper-breast, and flanks, a blackish crown and back, with a light whitish under-belly. Brightly-colored, erectable patches of feathers are found behind the ears resembling horns; the protruding horn-like feather growth is where the ‘Horned’ Grebe got its name (Stedman 2000). Unfortunately, to get a look at this beautiful plumage one would have to travel out of town, because at the end of winter these birds will be departing the Evergreen campus and heading north to their breeding grounds.


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