Sunday, October 16, 2011

Red-necked Grebe

There has been a lone Red-necked Grebe occupying Fern Lake at Fernhill Wetlands since early September. It typically hangs out in the middle of the Lake, so it's tough to get a good look at it unless you have a powerful spotting scope.
I got lucky this past Friday as I found it very near the shore. Usual behavior for it, like most Grebes, is to dive underwater when approached by a human and swim away. It did this the at first, but the next time I saw it, it had found what I think were Cackling Goose down feathers floating on the water as there were 1000's of the geese on the water that day and it was busy collecting and swallowing them. This gave me the opportunity to get a few fair pictures of it. To bad the lighting wasn't better.
I thought it odd that it was eating feathers so I checked on Cornell's All About Birds site and found the following; "Like other grebes, the Red-necked Grebe ingests large quantities of its own feathers. Feathers remain in the bird's stomach. The function of feathers in the stomach is unknown. One hypothesis suggests that the feathers help protect the lower digestive tract from bones and other hard, indigestible material."
I suppose it could have been its own feathers, but I doubt they would have been floating on the water like that.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's interesting behavior! I'll be sure to keep an eye out for grebes eating feathers now.