Birds of Seabrook Island

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  Order Podicipediformes - Grebes
   Family Podicipedidae - Grebes
  Grebes are small to medium-sized divers found in all temperate and tropical regions of the world, mainly in fresh water. Their legs are set far back on the body making walking on land difficult. They are foot-propelled divers - their toes are lobed, not webbed and they can adjust their buoyancy to swim with only the head above water. Their plumage is thick and waterproof. Their tail is vestigial. They are weak fliers but perform extensive migrations. Shorter-billed species feed on a variety of aquatic organisms. Longer-billed species include fish in their diet. Their calls are loud and characterize our fresh-water habitats.
     
 
  Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
 
                                                                                                            Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        RESIDENT - Common / Common (small numbers but widespreas), rare in summer
            LAKES, FRESH WATER MARSHES, (TIDAL CREEKS)
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   This is the most widespread grebe in the New World. The Pied-billed Grebe is a small, chunky grebe that is usually found on fresh water. Individuals or small groups (never large flocks) often winter on small fresh water ponds, lakes and marshes. They may also be found on brackish bays and lagoons in winter.
When disturbed, they dive or sink from sight - they rarely fly (although they make marked migrations).
   Pied-billed Grebes are dull with a thick bill and dark eye. The vestigial tail feathers are white. The adult has a white bill with a black band and a black bib on the throat.  With experience, the size and shape alone serve as good field marks. Grebes make frequent dives. They may also swim at different depths - sometimes just the head is above water.
   They are vocal - making loud whinnying, cooing, gobbling noises -day or night.
Pied-billed Grebe
     
Pied-billed Grebe. Palmetto Lake
   
  RANGE: Pied-billed Grebes breed across North America, ranging north into central Canada and south through South America and the West Indies. They winter along both coasts and across southern North America south along the Gulf Coast south to Panama. Northern populations migrate, presumably at night.
  BREEDING: Lakes, ponds, sluggish streams, and marshes - usually with tall emergent vegetation. Probably monogamous. Breeding sites have heavy marsh vegetation with some open water. Both sexes work together to construct an inconspicuous shallow platform nest of decaying vegetation, anchored in open water among vegetation. Birds may approach the nest underwater.  It is made from reeds and is plastered with soft green scum. Both sexes build. Females lay 5-7 (2-10) eggs which she incubates, with some help, for 23 days. The eggs are covered with nesting material if the nest is unattended. Young are subprecocial and can swim soon after hatching.. Both sexes tend young. They may be carried on the back of the adults, occasionally even under water. The age at first flight not well known (flight is seldom observed). They may raise 1-2 brood/year - possibly more in our area (Potter et al, 2006, suggest they raise only on brood?).
  DIET: Grebes eat aquatic insects, snails, fish, frogs, and aquatic vegetation with their diet varying with location and season. They eat feathers and produce feather balls in the proventriculus (part of the stomach). Parents feed feathers to their young. They forage by diving and propel themselves with their feet.
  VOICE: Their song is a vibrant, carrying series of barks - high notes, followed by gulping clucks. Their calls are bizarre and will alert you to their presence. They may be heard in the winter...
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - common fall through spring, occasional summer.
      Coastal - fairly common permanent resident. Hilton Head - fairly common winter visitor.
         Cape Romain
- common/common (breeds)/abundant/common.
         Huntington Beach -
uncommon May, rare June - August, uncommon September, common October - April.
      Caw Caw  - uncommon/rare (breeds)/uncommon/uncommon. ACE - common/uncommon (breeds)/common/common.
   CBC: ACE 342, 81, 256, 170, 177, 129, 296, 299; Charleston 229, 126, 318, 54, 74, 51, 91, 170;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 13, 29; Hilton Head 58, 49, 104, 455, 114, 86, 120, 183; Sun City/Okatie 33, 32, 91, 77, 57, 33, 39, 73;
            McClellanville 131, 39, 12, 59, nc, 79, 112, 122; Winyah Bay x, x, 160, 169, 283, 103, 90, 186;
               Litchfield/Pawley's 20, 35, 29, 59, 59, 59, 74, 86.
   SCBBA: Confirmed breeding ACE Basin and St. Helena's Island (Colleton and Beaufort Counties), suspected breeding eastern Charleston County and confirmed breeding Horry-Georgetown County border.
   P&G:
Fairly common resident and common to abundant fall migrant. Egg dates: 5 April - 18 September.
   M&P:
Known breeder in the coastal plain.
   Avendex:
7 coastal records, maximum 871 birds 5 December 1996 Savannah Spoil Area.
   Potter: Most abundant in fresh-waters along the coast September-May (fall migration, winter). Breeding records come chiefly from the coastal plain.
  ●   Common. Pied-billed Grebes are regular visitors on all our freshwater lakes including Palmetto Lake and the larger lagoons, the marshes on Jenkins Point (listen for them), and the lake at Freshfields in winter (and occasionally in estuaries and tidal creeks). They breed in surrounding areas (Caw Caw, Hollings ACE Basin NWR and probably Donnelley and Bear Island WMAs) but they lack breeding habitat on Seabrook and are unusual here in summer. The cattail marsh on Jenkins Point now has very little open water remaining but would be the most likely place to find a nest. They have probably bred there in the past. Listen for their calls (gulping clucks) - you will hear them before you see them during the breeding season.
       
    Banner - Pied-billed Grebe - probably Palmetto Lake.
       
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