NatureMapping Animal Facts for Kids

Western Grebe

Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)
Species code: AEOC

distribution map

What they look like: The Western Grebe is the largest of the North American grebes. The male and female both have a long neck and bill and their feet are far back from the body. The head, neck, and body are a black- brown color from above, and white from below. The Western Grebe has a yellow bill and red eyes. When they fly, you can see a white wing stripe on their wing.

Western grebe photo by NP

Size: Length: 20-24 inches. Weight: 1,400 grams on average

Voice: High-pitched crreeet-crreeet.

Where they live: The Western Grebe is found in Canada to California, and sometimes in Mexico. It is usually in the great plains and western states, but sometimes it can be found in the eastern half of the United States.

During mating, it is found on large lakes with many surrounding plants. They build floating nests from the plants. When it migrates, it is found on large, deep lakes.

What they eat: As a carnivore, it mostly eats fish. The Western Grebe is an aggressive hunter. It dives under the water and spears fish with its long bill.

Did you know? The mating display of the Western Grebe is among the most complicated of all. During the 'weed dance,' the male and female both raise their chest gently out of the water and then rub each other with water plants in their long bills. Then comes the 'rushing' phase when the birds look at each other before exploding into a sprint across the water's surface. Each grebe stands high, with its wings held back and its cobra-like head and neck rigid. The race ends with the pair diving head first into the water.

Western Grebe Silhouette

Western Grebe

Animal silhouettes available to purchase »

Photo Credit: Natures Pics

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