Ball of Feathers

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

In the cold shower and brisk southerly wind, this little ball of feathers was paddling south in the North Basin at a rapid clip without opening its bright red eyes. It must have cracked its lids just a slit or it would have bumped into the rocks. I’ve seen many a waterbird paddling while seeming to be asleep. This little grebe drew itself together into a fuzzy ball, with just its needle-like beak sticking out and pointing the way. Judging by the flap of dark feathers on its cheek, it’s an Eared Grebe, in winter plumage of course. I wondered how the bird felt, navigating on this cold water in this chilly air, but on checking the data back home, I found that the water temperature at that time (52.9 F) was warmer than the air (39 F). It could actually warm up by diving.

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

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