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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Pied-billed Grebe -- Podilymbus podiceps

RANGE: Breeds in southeastern Alaska and from central Canada south locally through temperate North America. Winters through most of breeding range from southern British Columbia and the central United States southward, casually farther north. Also winters throughout West Indies, Central and South America.

STATUS: Common; most widespread grebe in North America.

HABITAT: Inhabits ponds with much shoreline and emergent vegetation, marshes with areas of open water 15 to 25 inches deep, and marshy inlets and bays. Found on ponds, sloughs, flooded areas, marshy parts of lakes and rivers, and occasionally estuarine waters with weak tidal influence.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Marshes, sluggish streams, ponds 18 acres or less, and some emergent vegetation.

NEST: A solitary nester, with generally only one pair nesting per pothole. Constructs a floating nest usually in shallow water, but sometimes on water several feet deep and well concealed in emergent vegetation. Builds nest around or anchored to reeds, rushes, or bushes and usually within 50 feet of open water.

FOOD: Captures food while swimming and during dives. Primarily eats fishes, but also insects and some crayfish.

REFERENCES: Faaborg 1976, Glover 1953, Palmer 1962, Sealy 1978, Terres 1980, Wetmore 1924.

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