Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The western grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis, breeds in California, the northwestern United States, and the north-central United States, as well as in southwestern Canada, south-central Canada, and areas of Mexico. The species winters along the west coast of North America, from Alaska to northern Mexico. The western grebe is a fairly common breeder in northern Utah. Preferred habitats of the species include lakes, marshes, and coasts.

The western grebe is a colonial nester that nests on large lakes; nests are typically built on vegetation in or near the water. A clutch of two to five eggs is laid by the female and then incubated by both parents for about four weeks. Both parents tend the young.

This grebe is an excellent swimmer, and much of its food is obtained from the water. Fishes make up the bulk of the diet, but invertebrates found in or near water are also consumed. The western grebe can be distinguished from its close relative, Clark's grebe, by: 1) black (not white) around the eye and 2) a greenish color (not yellowish-orange) to the bill.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.