The grebe bird - facts

   The grebe is a family of lobe-footed aquatic birds related to the loon, but much smaller. Grebes are famous divers and are able to swim with but the tip of the bill above water. In this way they seem to disappear marvelously. A grebe has the power of paddling so swiftly that, when lifted out of the water by hand, its feet move so rapidly that they form a mere blur, and cannot be distinguished apart. There are six species in North America, three of which are found in the northeastern part of the Unit­ed States and Canada. They feed largely on fish. Their nests are masses of water-soaked, floating vegetation, built up in shallows or attached to rushes or grass. How eggs can be hatched in so wet a nest is a wonder. The mother grebe carries her young on her back. She uses her long neck in feeding them choice bits of minnows, snails, and tadpoles. When she thinks they should take to the water she gets them out on her wing, and gives them a flip, as from a springboard. The common grebe is also called the pied-billed grebe, dabchick, hell-diver, and water-witch. It is useless to waste powder on a grebe. It dives at the flash, long before shot can reach it. The flesh is as useless as that of the white-billed coot.