It's nesting season for the Clark's and Western Grebes on Clear Lake. I spent a beautiful Saturday morning on a pontoon boat (operated by Eyes of the Wild) observing and photographing the grebe pairs and their chicks.
The young chicks spend the first weeks of their lives riding on the backs of the parents. Often they are completely hidden in the parent's feathers, but sometimes they take a peek out to receive a fish from the parent and get a look at their world. After a few weeks they begin to swim on their own but still rely on the adults for food.
The nests, built and maintained by both members of the pair, are constructed of lake weeds. Built in about three to four feet of water, they appear to be free-floating on the surface of the lake but are actually anchored in place by more lake weeds. The eggs are incubated for 24 days.
Unfortunately there is a high rate of failed nests on Clear Lake. The cause is not known but may be due to heavy lake traffic or predation by otters, gulls, or other birds.
For more pictures of the grebes, see my gallery "Western and Clark's Grebes, Clear Lake, California".