Light Necking

Western Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark’s Grebes (Aechmophorus clarkii)

With only a handful of scaup remaining from the Spring migration, the most numerous flock on the North Basin in late May were the big grebes, about fifty of them. This was a mixed bunch, with Westerns and Clark’s both present. Most of them were snoozing. With their heads tucked into their back it was impossible to get relative numbers. From time to time, two or three would wake up, make that scraping noise that must be their love call, and one would try to interest another in a courtship dance. Most of these were short-lived numbers, like a quick flirtation. They’d do two or three passes of semi-synchronized neck motions, and then one or the other would move on to more interesting business like preening or diving. But a few couples managed a more sustained choreography. Still, this was at most light necking — pardon the pun. They didn’t get to second base, which involves rising out of the water furiously, nor to the weed feeding stage, not to mention actual coupling. But it’s early yet. As the days warm up, so may their ardor.

In the video, the first couple looked to be Western Grebes (blurry yellow beak, black cap extending below the eye). The other couples were Clark’s (bright yellow beak, black cap ending above the eye).

Similar Posts:

One thought on “Light Necking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »