A Clarks Grebe Family Portrait

The clark’s grebe is an interesting bird to say the least. It has a most unusual trait in how it cares for its young. Similar to the western grebe, the clark’s grebe parents will allow the young chicks to ride on the parents backs for weeks as they mature.

I am not sure what the biological reasoning for this is exactly but from a photographic standpoint it is one of the highlights of spring on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Catching the right moment, however, isn’t as easy as it is to spot this “baby on board” moment. The baby grebe chicks often lay low on the parents backs, tucked neatly under the adult feathers concealing them from predators, I assume, and also from us photographers.

But with a little patience and a little luck catching this moment can be had. It just takes a little time out in the field observing these unique birds. Here are three images I shot a couple days ago on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge of the clark’s grebe and this most unusual behavior.

clarks grebe
A family of clark’s grebes

clark's grebe
clark’s grebe

clarks grebe
clarks grebe