Friday, April 29, 2011

Horned Grebes:Late March Spring Migration birds through Northern Illinois

A trio of Horned Grebes taking a rest stop at Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 3/31/11.
I added a new bird to my "Life List" in late March when I spotted three Horned Grebes (Above) on Pierce lake in Rock Cut State Park.  These very brightly marked grebes are another diver, and they spend the winter on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and southeast U.S.  During the Spring migration they will make their way to their summer grounds in western Canada and Alaska. So it is fortunate that in late March this trio appeared on Pierce Lake in Rock Cut State Park and stayed for two straight weeks. Since then, others have joined them (or replaced them). In fact last week there were still many of these Grebes at Rock Cut State Park. A flock of Grebes is known as a 'water dance.' I don't know who comes up with these names, but they are very entertaining.

In their breeding plumage, Horned Grebes have a very striking black head and bill with a bright yellow mask that stretches across to the back of the head and feathering out into a pair of "horns." Its red eyes and lores match its reddish body that contrasted with dark gray scaled back. Its colors give them some unusual names in bird folk lore; including "Devil-diver", "hell-diver", "pink-eyed diver", and "water witch."

A good look at the Horned Grebe's striking colors, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 3/26/11.
The Horned Grebes winter plumage is less striking as it loses its yellows and reds. So it is very cool to see them in their glory. They will show off their "horns" to attract a mate (two photos Below). Last weekend while hiking in Rock Cut State Park, I saw an unusually large water dance of between 20 and 30, and several were showing off their "horns" (Below 2nd photo).
A water dance of Horned Grebes, Rock Cut Sate Park, Rockford, IL; 3/27/11.

A good look at this Grebe's "Horns" as it is in its heightened state of attracting a mate for the spring, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 4/23/2011.

I caught this great reflection pic of these turtles, while stalking birds at Rock Cut State Park; 4/9/11.
 When I saw two turtles sunning themselves on one log sticking out of a pond at Rock Cut State Park, I inadvertently startled another turtle who was on a log closer to me. The closer turtle then swam out and climbed onto the back of the other two (Above). Someday when I have a slow birding day, I'll show you the series of photos of the 3rd turtle swimming out and climbing onto the log and subsequently onto the back of the middle turtle.

1 comment:

~Val said...

I've not seen these before...I wonder if the little guy with the horns was successful in meeting a lady friend?