Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Clark's Grebe

While with my daughter, Rachael, at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, we were seeing lots and lots of what we thought were western grebes. However, as I got home and started reviewing my photos and cropping them for closer looks, I discovered that we'd also been seeing another very similar species: Clark's grebe. In fact, it appears that we were seeing about half and half of each species. 
Both of these Clark's grebes have babies riding on their backs. 

Clark's grebe is most easily distinguished from the western grebe by looking at its eye. If the eye is surrounded by white feathers it is a Clark's and if it is surrounded by dark feathers, part of the dark cap, then it is a western. Clark's has an overall paler plumage on the back and a bright yellow bill compared to the more greenish-yellow bill of the western, but neither of those makes them distinguishable to me - but the eye is an easy determinant. 

Clark's nests in the same area as the western and has the same mating rituals. The Clark's we saw were a little more into the rituals than the westerns we saw as reflected by some of my photos. 

Extremely interesting behavior. 
This was a first view of both western and Clark's grebes for me. 

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