Winter Visitor – Horned Grebe

Horned Grebes are another winter visitor that breeds in northern inland areas but inhabits our shores during the winter season. In the summer they live in interior Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories, as well as eastern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and western Manitoba. They migrate to the coasts in the winter and are found on the Pacific coast of North America from the Aleutians to Baja California and the Atlantic coast from the Canadian Maritimes to Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico.

We don’t get to see them in their colorful breeding plumage but they are easy to identify. They are small, have a short white tipped beak and a very compact body. It is so compact that they seem to have lost their posterior. And they have distinctive red eyes.

This sequence of photographs shows a Horned Grebe feasting on a Sand Eel. It has to position it so it can swallow it head first. I think they also try to stun it as well. So there is a lot of thrashing around. (Yes, one Sand Eel perished in the making of this post.)

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