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A photo of a Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii)
Clark's Grebe

Clark's Grebe

Aechmophorus clarkii

The Clark's Grebe, Aechmophorus clarkii, is a striking North American waterbird, part of the grebe family. It is characterized by its elegant, long neck and a sleek profile. Adults typically measure between 22 to 29 inches in length, with a wingspan of approximately 24 inches, and weigh between 25.3 and 44.4 ounces. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism with males sporting a slight crest on their heads.

Identification Tips

To distinguish the Clark's Grebe from its close relative, the Western Grebe, look for its paler back plumage and the white facial coloring that extends above the eye, rather than just below. The Clark's Grebe's bill is a vibrant yellow in the United States, contrasting with the greenish-yellow bill of the Western Grebe. Additionally, the bill of the Clark's Grebe is slightly upturned, whereas the Western Grebe's bill is straight.

Habitat

Clark's Grebes favor large inland lakes in western North America for breeding and migrate to the Pacific coast for wintering. They are also found year-round in select locales such as California, Nevada, Arizona, and central Mexico.

Distribution

This species has a broad range, nesting across western North America and migrating to coastal regions during the winter. It maintains permanent populations in certain areas of California, Nevada, Arizona, and central Mexico.

Behaviour

Clark's Grebes are known for their elaborate courtship displays, which mirror those of the Western Grebe. They are also adept divers, plunging into the water to forage for their varied diet.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the Clark's Grebe are similar to the Western Grebe, but during courtship, they emit a distinctive, extended "kreeeed" call to attract mates, differing from the two-note call of their Western counterparts.

Breeding

Clark's Grebes are known for their courtship rituals, which include the "rushing ceremony" and the "weed ceremony," involving intricate dances and presentations to attract a mate. While they tend to form monogamous pairs for the season, males may have multiple partners over their lifetimes.

Similar Species

The Western Grebe is the species most similar to the Clark's Grebe, with the key differences being the coloration of the plumage, the extent of white on the face, and the color and shape of the bill.

Diet and Feeding

Once thought to be fish specialists, Clark's Grebes are actually opportunistic feeders. They consume a variety of prey including insects, polychaete worms, crustaceans, salamanders, and small fish, which they catch by diving.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the Clark's Grebe as Least Concern, indicating that the species does not currently face a significant risk of extinction.

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A photo of a Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)

Western Grebe

Aechmophorus occidentalis
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