An Eared Grebe – Maybe a Sad Story? Hopefully Not.

A week ago I went Geist Reservoir to view the EARED GREBE that had been reported. In late November I had distant views of one at Eagle Creek.  So it seemed odd to me to have two reported locally in such a short period of time since Eared Grebes are a Western NA grebe and only a few are reported in Indiana per year.

Map - BirdLife International
As seen on this range map from BirdLife International the Eared Grebe (known as Black-necked Grebe to the rest of the world) is Western NA bird.

The Eared Grebe had first been reported by Nick Kiehl on 12/30/15 and was subsequently reported by several people on eBird.  When I went with Don Gorney to Gibson County on Jan. 2 he told that he had seen the bird the day before on the spillway side of the dam. Don said Kirk Roth speculated that the bird had been washed over the spillway by the heavy rains and now couldn’t get out.

Grebes can’t erupt to take flight but need a length of water to fly. So if this bird didn’t get out of the spillway it probably wouldn’t ever be able to take off.

I arrived at 12:40 and at 1:40 I still hadn’t found the grebe. I briefly checked the spillway, and the water down stream thinking that was where it would be. I finally texted Andy Belt since he had seen it the day before.  He said it was in the spillway RIGHT NEXT TO THE DAM. I guess I couldn’t comprehend the reports meant that close to the dam. I assumed it had floated downstream a little ways.

EAGR 010316A
This photo was taken a week later on 1/9/16. I placed a STAR where the Eared Grebe had been located the previous week. I just couldn’t comprehend how close the grebe was to the spillway.

I discussed the situation with my wife but there really wasn’t much one could do.  My only hope was that it would finally tire a bit and drift down the creek.  There would be ample room for it to take off flying from there.

EAGR 010315 (2)
The Eared Grebe fighting the current right next to the spillway. Geist Reservoir 1/3/16
EAGR 010315 (1)
Also not a great photo in the poor light but good enough to ID this as a Eared Grebe. Note the head and bill shape and faintly white patches on the chin and nape to distinguish this from a Horned Grebe. Geist Reservoir – 1/3/16

I later saw on Facebook that it was reported gone by mid-week. And it wasn’t present this past Saturday.

One can only hope it got enough strength to fly away. And this really didn’t end up being a Sad Story.


2 Replies to “An Eared Grebe – Maybe a Sad Story? Hopefully Not.”

  1. I made the same mistake of not looking on the spillway side of the dam, but I was surprised to see it was still there for more than a week. I often wonder about the fates of vagrants and rarities, and I would hope the eared grebe made it out of the spillway.

    1. Like you I was surprised that the grebe was on the spillway side and then how close it was to the dam. I couldn’t envision it right up by the dam. And you are right about vagrants health. It seems like I often read about them being sick and dying in a few days. And I too have wondered about the ones that just aren’t found anymore. Did they die also or find their way back to where they should be? I sure which we could track them somehow.

      Once again thanks for the help in locating it.

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