Clark's Grebe, Aechmophorus clarkii


Clark's Grebe
Clark's and Western Grebe were long considered two forms of the same species and only recently recognized as separate. The picture below shows birds of both species together, the Clark's behind, and illustrates the standard distinguishing marks: Clark's has an orange rather than a greenish bill, lighter flanks, and the dark crown ends above the eye.


Western and Clark's Grebes


Clark's Grebe
Clark's Grebes with fish, above, and mole crab, below.


Clark's Grebe

Clark's Grebe
Both Clark's and Western Grebes normally nest in large colonies on freshwater lakes in the interior of western North America. A pair of Clark's surprised local birders in 2011 by nesting on a small nearshore island in an artificial saltwater pond in Mountain View, bordering on southern San Francisco Bay. Below are the pair together, with a newly-hatched chick riding on the back of one of the adults; above is the other adult incubating the remaining unhatched egg on the nest. In this species both sexes incubate equally, but while both adults of both sexes carry the new chick ("back-brood") in the fashion shown below, the male does so more frequently, and the adult back-brooding the chick in this picture was noticeably larger than the other one, with a longer bill and a larger crest, presumably the male. Sadly, the nesting effort failed; the single chick shown below died shortly after this picture was taken, and no other chick was observed to have hatched.


Clark's Grebes


Clark's Grebes
In 2012, a pair of Clark's Grebes, possibly the same pair as in 2011, again attempted to nest on the same island, also unsuccessfully. Above, the pair swimming together in their courting ritual in May; below, the pair with two eggs in their nest in July; the eggs never hatched.

Clark's Grebes

Clark's Grebes
Continuing the drama of failed attempts at nesting in the Bay Area, in Spring 2013 this pair of Clark's Grebes built a nest at Coyote Lake in southern Santa Clara County, along with several pairs of Western Grebes. Above, courtship with one bird carrying nesting material; below, bird sitting on nest with other bird bringing food or nesting material. The nests were ultimately abandoned with no hatchlings of either species ever seen. 

Clark's Grebes