Pied-billed Grebes are one of the under-appreciated birds in the refuge, I think. They look like quiet, little, diving birds, but look at their antics! Just when you think they're sitting there, they can take off across the water, zipping to their next destination.
The zipping is the challenge for the photographer. You never know which one will zip next, so you have to get the camera focused on them after they start in motion, no small feat. I was happy to have captured these photos.
The top two photos show a grebe running across the water. I love the plop, plop splash marks. The bottom photo shows the grebe propelling across the water, like an outboard motor boat.
Pied-billed Grebes are found on lakes and ponds across much of North America in the breeding season, but leave frozen areas in winter. They dive down and eat small fish, aquatic invertebrates and amphibians. They have lobbed toes (not webbed feet) that aid them in paddling and propelling. Here, at Ding Darling NWR, they usually hang out in groups. We get a kick out of their calls we hear here, which sound a lot like ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Wonder what they think is so funny. Maybe us!