Excerpts from Jim Conrad's


from the November 23, 2014 Newsletter issued from Río Lagartos, on the north-central coast of Yucatán, MÉXICO

North America is home to several grebe species, some fairly commonly seen, but in the US only in southern Texas can you see the one shown above in a shallow freshwater pond just south of Río Lagartos.

That's the Least Grebe, TACHYBAPTUS DOMINICUS, the smallest grebe in all the Americas. The well known little Pied-billed Grebe occurring across North America is nine inches long (23cm) but the Least Grebe is only 6½ inches (17cm). Such striking, amber-colored eyes is fairly commonly occur among the grebes, though the Pied-billed Grebe's are dark. From southern Texas the Least Grebe is distributed throughout the Americas south to Argentina.

The Least Grebe's genus name, Tachybaptus, breaks down to the Greek takhus, meaning fast, and baptos, meaning diving, or sinking under, and that's exactly what our grebe did a split second after the above picture was taken. I read that when feeding, on the average during its dives, it spends 12.5 seconds submerged, with surface pauses ranging from 2–24 seconds. Least Grebes mainly eat small fish, crustaceans, frogs and aquatic insects.