Setting off crisp black-and-white plumage with a yellow bill and red eye, the slender Western Grebe is an elegant presence on lakes and ocean coasts of western North America. Along with its close relative, the Clark’s Grebe, it’s renowned for a ballet-like courtship display in which male and female “run” across the water in synchrony, their long necks curved in an S-shape. These waterbirds rarely come ashore, instead taking long dives to catch fish and other aquatic animals.
Western and Clark’s Grebes were considered the same species until 1985, after scientists learned that the two species rarely interbreed (despite sometimes living on the same lakes), make different calls, and have substantial DNA differences.
Information from the All About Birds website, www.allaboutbirds.org, © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.