Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Horned vs. Eared Grebe

On 21 April 2012. Erika and I photographed this rather handsome Horned Grebe on Cannon Lake in Rice County, Minnesota. This observation was not the first of the year, as we already listed in near the Oregon Coast during our April road-trip (second photo). The Oregon bird is well on its way to molting into breeding plumage
Birders sometimes have trouble telling Horned and Eared Grebes apart. In breeding plumage, the Horned Grebe's neck and breast are reddish-brown. Note the Eared Grebe below (from South Dakota). The Eared Grebe's breast is black. In winter plumage, the two species are more difficult to identify. Note the crested top knot on the Eared Grebe's head. This profile is usually sufficient to identify the species. Also note the red eyes in both species. Apparently many diving waterfowl have red eyes. This color becomes invisible under a few feet of water, thus prey are less likely to see the divers' attack.

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