There are 22 species of grebe found worldwide, seven of which are found in North America. The horned grebe (seen above) is The Grebe Geek's favorite. Gaze upon its fluffy "horns."
Grebes are diving birds with their legs placed far back on the body for optimal swimming and diving abilities. This western grebe is showing off his leg, which features individually webbed toes. Grebes and other water birds are known to sometimes extend or wave a leg, it is thought perhaps as a way to dry or warm it. I just think he's showing off by swimming with one foot.
Even if you don't know much about grebes, you may have seen footage of the spectacular courtship rituals of some species. As I often like to do, I'll let Sir David Attenborough take it from here in the video above.
And what is the result of successful grebe courtship? Adorable grebe chicks. I hereby dub them grebelets.
Riding around on your parents' backs is not just an easy way to get around, but a method of protection from predators lurking below, who like to make an easy meal out of the young of water birds.
I think this chick is just pushing it.
I had to put in one last chick picture. They are too stinkin' cute.
Grebes use their amazingly adapted legs and webbed toes to dive up to 90 feet (think of a nine story building!) to find their food. Grebes with longer beaks like this great-crested grebe, found in Europe, eat mostly fish. While grebes with shorter bills, like the pied-billed grebe eat mostly small aquatic invertebrates.
Apparently someone forgot to tell this pied-billed grebe that he eats mostly small invertebrates.
Well there you have it, a photo journey into the world of the grebe in honor of my friend, The Grebe Geek. Grebe Geek, I hope you had a wonderful birthday and totally pigged out, pied-billed grebe style.