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Marshbirds and Shorebirds of North Dakota

Eared Grebe

EARED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis L13" (32cm)

The eared grebe can be found on a wide variety of wetlands and lakes in North Dakota that contain emergent vegetation. It acquired its name by the golden tufts of feathers that fan out behind the eyes. Like the western grebe, the eared grebe usually nests in large colonies. The "penguin dance" is a major display in eared grebe courtship. While facing each other, the male and female tread water and rise up breast to breast, shake their heads, and let out a trilled call. Both sexes construct the nest which is either free-floating or built up on a dense bed of vegetation. The average clutch size is 3-4 bluish white eggs with an incubation period lasting 21 days. The downy chicks climb atop the parent's back where they will spend most of their time during their first two weeks of life. The diet of the eared grebe consists mainly of aquatic insects such as damselflies, water boatmen, and mayflies. The eared grebe in breeding plumage can be confused with the horned grebe but instead has a black neck versus a reddish-brown neck as in the horned grebe.

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