The Eared Grebe ( Podiceps nigricollis ) is a fairly common bird west of the Mississippi River, however on an annual basis we here in Ohio will have a stray show up. And as usual birders start showing up as well to tick this difficult bird off their “Year List”. For myself I don’t keep “Year Lists” but I do enjoy putting the old bins om this bird and maybe getting a decent photograph.
The bird was located at Eastwood Metro Park in the heart of Dayton Ohio. I’ve visited this park in the past and it’s not too far away, about 45 minutes. Before I made up my mind to go I consulted one of my favorite books, “Identify Yourself, The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges” In it there’s a really good section on Grebes.
This time of year Eared Grebes are usually seen either by themselves or with another, mixed in with Horned Grebes. And if they’re actively feeding just keeping up with them so you can get a positive ID can prove difficult. To quote from the book “The most useful differences between Horned and Eared Grebes in non-breeding plummage are the pattern of the head and throat and the size and shape of the bill”.
With that in mind, off I went. I arrived before the park even opened as well as some other birders. Besides the Eared Grebe there were reports of a Red-throated Loon. Well no Red-throated Loon was spotted, however the Eared Grebe was there.
What I love about the above photograph is that you can really see the slight upturned bill, which is a great identifier for Eared Grebe.
After searching this side of the lake for the Loon with no luck, I drove down to the to search, with no luck. As I started to drive back once again I noticed this birder taking pictures at a Common Loon really close to these docks by the boat launch area. I pulled over and parked and grabbed my camera.
In all my years of birding I’ve never been this close to a Common Loon, or any Loon for that matter. It had to of known we were there, but were no threat because it just kept feeding as I snapped off picture after picture.