Western Grebe

Aechmophorus occidentalis




Grebes (Podicipedidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale blue, nest stained

Number of Eggs:

1 - 7

Incubation Days:

23 - 24

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Floating and anchored to vegetation.

Nest Material:

Made of plant material.


Some migrate



Western Grebe: Large, long-necked grebe with dark gray upperparts, white underparts, and gray sides and flanks. Lower face and front of neck are white; black cap extends below eye. Back of neck is black. Eyes are red. Bill is long, thin, and dull olive-yellow. Sexes are similar and winter birds are duller gray.Juveniles are light gray overall. Wings have white stripes visible in flight.

Range and Habitat

Western Grebe: Breeds from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba south to California and southwestern Texas. Winters along the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to California, on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas. Casual to eastern U.S. Preferred habitats include large lakes with reeds or rushes, shallow coastal bays, and estuaries.

Breeding and Nesting

Western Grebe: Mates in spring following an elaborate courtship that includes dancing, posturing, and running across water. Lays one to seven pale blue eggs in a floating nest made from reeds. Incubation ranges from 23 to 24 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Western Grebe: Eats fish, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans; dives under water to spear fish with its long bill.


Western Grebe: On breeding grounds, a rolling "kr-r-rick, kr-r-rick" is sounded most often.

Similar Species

Western Grebe: Loons are larger with longer bodies and heavier, darker bills. Horned and Eared Grebes are smaller with much shorter bills that are never yellow-green. Red-necked Grebe is smaller without bold black-and-white neck pattern. Clark's Grebe has bright yellow bill.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X