Pied-billed Grebe

photo by Phil Swanson

Podilymbus podiceps
L 13.5″ (34 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Hollow “cow-cow-cow-cow, cow, cow, cowp, cowp, cowp” heard mainly in breeding season. 

Description: Sexes similar. Breeding adult is brown overall, with black ring around stout, whitish bill; black chin and throat; pale belly. Winter birds lose bill ring; chin is white. Juveniles resemble winter adult but throat is much redder; head and neck streaked with brown and white.

pied billed grebe
Habitat: Breeds on ponds, lakes and impoundments with emergement vegetation. Migrants can be found on lakes, reservoirs, marshes, ponds and water- filled ditches.

Where in Nebraska: Common migrant statewide; Common regular breeder in the Sandhills and fairly common breeder elsewhere. Largest breeding concentrations can be found on Sandhills marshes in Sheridan, Garden and Cherry Counties.

Field Notes: Nests are constructed on semi-floating masses of plants standing in water; eggs in the nests are frequently lying in water.

Fun Facts: Pied-billed Grebes are rarely seen in flight and when threatened or flushed by predators prefers to dive underwater than fly away.

Additional Information: Other grebes have slender bills.

Pied-billed Grebe - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission& Pied-billed Grebe - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)