Can you tell the difference between the Horned Grebe and the Eared Grebe?
In the US, the Horned Grebe can be found along the both the east and west coasts. They migrate throughout the rest of the country and breed in Alaska. While the Eared Grebe can only be found on the west coast and breed in northern central states.
So when I’m on the east coast of the US and I see these birds in the ocean, I know that it is the Eared Grebe. Unfortunately, when I’m on the west coast I have to get a good close look at the birds I see, because it could be either one..
Below is a group of Horned Grebes I recently saw on the east coast of the US.
They were just off the beach foraging in the waves. I watched as they would dive under the water and swim around propelling with their feet. In the winter they will eat mostly fish.
When you see a bird that looks like this on the west coast of the US, make sure to check to see if the contrast between the black and white is crisp not dingy. Is the bill kind of thick? Then you’re probably looking at a Horned Grebe, but if not, if the bill seems thin and a bit upturned, then you might just be seeing an Eared Grebe.
Below is an Eared Grebe that I spotted on the west coast. Can you see the differences?