Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps, is an aquatic bird that can be distinguished from other grebes by its "chicken-like" bill. It is widely distributed in the Americas; its breeding range includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America. The preferred breeding habitats of the pied-billed grebe are riparian areas, shorelines, and marshy wetlands. It winters on ice-free water bodies in parts of the western United States, southern Mexico, and Central America. The species can be found year-round in Utah, but some individuals only stay through the summer.

The pied-billed grebe is a solitary and secretive bird, frequently hiding underwater with just its eyes and nostrils above the water's surface. An expert diver, it collects most of its food (primarily fishes, crayfishes, and aquatic insects) from below the water's surface. Similar to other grebes, pied-billed grebes eat their own feathers, presumably to protect their stomachs from sharp fish bones and crustacean shells.

Pied-billed grebes are highly territorial and will aggressively defend their territories. The male establishes a territory and builds a platform nest in an area of tall vegetation. Pairs are monogamous, and an average of six eggs are incubated by both parents. Young hatch after three to four weeks, and are capable of swimming for short periods of time just one hour after they hatch. They move onto their parents backs shortly after hatching, and they are carried in this manner for several weeks. Both parents feed the young until the young become independent, at about one to two months of age.


  • Hayward, C. L., Cottam, C., Woodbury, A. M., and H. H. Frost. 1976. Birds of Utah. In Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, No. 1 (Wood, S. L. and K. T. Harper, eds.). Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Muller, M. J., and R. W. Storer. 1999. Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps). Birds of North America 410.