Monday, October 21, 2013

The Mysterious Case of the Pied-Billed Grebe

Every morning after breakfast Grace goes outside with Asher to do the morning "barn chores" of feeding and watering the goats and chickens and collecting the eggs.  Last week Asher came excitedly back to the house yelling, "Mom, you will never believe what I found!"

On his way out to the chickens he had found this juvenille bird sitting in the grass between the goat shed and the barn.  Now normally you should leave wildlife alone unless you know for sure that it is hurt, but this bird was obviously a waterfowl with its webbed feet and I could not understand how it got to our property, which is nowhere near a pond or lake.  It also seemed unable to move very well since we could easily approach it and it did not seem like it could take off and fly, so we figured something must be wrong.

Those webbed feet and that pointy beak combination really had us baffled.  Was it a duck or a goose or something else?  The kids were sure it must be some extinct species after we  poured over all our bird identification books and could not manage to identify it.  The fact that it was a juvenile made it a bit more difficult because I knew it would not have the same markings as an adult but we thought we could at least make a good guess.  The closest thing it looked like was a Pied-Billed Grebe.
We called a local wildlife rehabilitation center and took it over that evening so they could help it.  The next day when I called to check on him the lady informed me that our bird was a Pied-Billed Grebe and it was a waterfowl and she had no idea how it ended up on our property.  I asked if maybe a hawk dropped it because that is how they kill their prey, but she didn't think so because it wasn't injured at all.  It was only unable to fly because it needed water and can not walk well on land.

So the only guess we can make is that since it was a young bird maybe it was flying along and over estimated its ability to fly very far and got so tired that it just dropped in our backyard.  Or maybe it landed on the barn roof for a break and lost its balance and fell off.  We'll never know.  But it did make for an interesting mystery to solve and a lot of new things learned about waterfowl in general.  Spontaneous nature study is always the best!


  1. have the most interesting things happen to you.

  2. That's wild! What a great experience for the kids. I love Aark; we're so blessed to have a facility like that in the area.

  3. What a wonderful learning experience for everyone. I am glad the fowl was rescued by responsible people like you.


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