Least Grebe with two siblings on its back. Photo by Eduardo Libby

Nesting (Cute!) Least Grebes

A few weeks ago my friend Marco Saborío, a very experienced nature photographer, told me there were several nesting Least Grebe couples on a pond. I love the piercing yellow eyes of these diving birds but I had not seen them nesting before: I was in for a nice surprise!

The nest is nothing to talk about, just some floating vegetation pieces but the Grebes behavior was incredible.

After the very large tan colored eggs incubate, cute chicks with white stripes and pink forehead feathers come out. First, they stay on the nest. Then, their parents lure them into the water with bits of food for their first swim… but that is not the best: once in the water they are eager to climb onto their parents back and take shelter underneath their wings.

 

Least Grebe Couple at nest. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Least Grebes inhabit wetlands from south Texas to Argentina. were it not for their intense yellow eyes they would probably go unnoticed. Click on the image to enlarge.

 

The first day I visited I had my Olympus EM1 mark 2 with the Panasonic Leica 100-400 mm (200-800 mm equivalent in 35 mm format). I made a few photos of the nest and the adults feeding. The next day, I had the same equipment but added a polarizing filter to tame the glare of the water and the floating plants. It worked very well.

 

Least Grebe chick and parent on the floating nest. Photo by Eduardo Libby
The polarizing filter really helped making the floating plants look greener and also helped to bring out shadow detail. Click on the image to enlarge.

 

The nest closest to the shore had only one sibling that wasn’t really eager for swimming. Looking further into the pond, I saw a couple with three young and playful chicks fighting for space on their parent’s backs. They were giving a great show but the parents made sure to stay away from the shore and this was a bit too far for my equipment… I made as many photos as I could but decided to abandon the convenience of the lighter Micro Four Thirds camera for my next visit and bring my large lens and teleconverters.

 

Least Grebe with two siblings on its back. Photo by Eduardo Libby
This really made my day of course… but the tiny birds stayed more than 60 ft (20+ m) away! Click on the image to enlarge.

 

On my next post I will show you the photos from my third visit where I even got luckier as the weather was sunny. I hope you like too these cute birds!

Are there Grebes in your area? When do they nest?

 

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