Image # 9814
Western Grebe at Tule Lake NWR
This Western Grebe is spending the summer at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Tule Lake is one of six wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin. Although the Basin is normally able to support large numbers of migrating birds (up to 3/4 of Pacific flyway waterfowl), water is limited during drought years. Western Grebes hunt underwater, propelled by their individually webbed toes to catch fish, crustaceans and salmanders. They have elaborate courtship displays and breed in colonies, nesting in shallow water marshes. Western Greebes are such strong swimmers that they almost don't need to fly and actually lose the muscle mass in their breasts and thus the ability to fly for the long periods of time between migrations. Remarkably caring parents grebes often give their downy young rides on their back under the wings. The parents will often dive with their young so ensconsed.