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Desert Wildlife -
Pied-billed GrebePodilymbus podiceps
The Pied-billed Grebe breeds across Canada, parts of the United States, and temperate South America. Although this species does not appear to be a strong flier, it has occurred in Europe as a rare vagrant on a number of occasions, and one bird in England bred with a Little Grebe, producing hybrid young.
The most widespread of North American grebes, it is found on remote ponds, marshes, and sluggish streams. It is usually the first grebe to arrive on northern inland waters in springtime, and the last to leave in autumn. It is rare on salt water. This grebe rarely flies, preferring to escape danger by diving.
It feeds on fish (carp, catfish, eels), insects (dragonflies, ants, beetles), and amphibians (frogs, tadpoles).
The Pied-billed Grebe is small at 31-38 cm (12"-15") in length, stocky, and short-necked. It is usually brown or gray in color. It has a short, blunt chicken-like bill, which in summer is encircled by a broad black band (hence the name). It is the only grebe that does not show a white wing patch in flight.