Pied-billed Grebe

The most common North American grebe, seen here without the dandy two-toned bill as is usual during winter months. I saw one the other day working a really small ditch on 8 Mile Road. This is at Lafitte’s Cove where there were three of them, all working the north-side pond. They are divers like cormorants and spend lots of time underwater. They can control buoyancy by trapping water or air under their feathers and have the ability to sit low in the water like an alligator with only the eyes and nostrils visible. I’m still looking to notch my list with an Eared Grebe. All this info is cribbed from the Cornell bird site.

The pied comes from Middle English (originally in the sense ‘black and white like a magpie’) and refers to the two toned bill (white with a black perpendicular stripe) as seen during breeding season. They might have called it piebilled which is easier to say and is consistent with another coinage, piebald, which is what horses with black and white splotches are called. At any rate it’s nice that the term traces back to a bird reference.