Western Grebe fossils from the Late Pleistocene of SW North America were described as a distinct species (Miller 1911), but later ranked as a paleosubspecies Aechmophorus occidentalis lucasi (Howard 1946). More recent study found them to fall within the variation now known to exist in today's birds (Jehl 1967, Storer 1989).
The Western Grebe is the largest North American grebe. It is 55–75 cm (22–30 in) long, weighs 795–2,000 g (1.75–4.4 lb) and measures 79–102 cm (31–40 in) across the wings. It is black-and-white, with a long, slender, swan-like neck and red eyes. It is easily confused with Clark's Grebe, which shares similar features, body size, behavior and habitat, and hybrids are known.
The Western Grebe has black around the eyes and a straight greenish-yellow bill whereas the Clark's Grebe has white around the eyes and an up-turned bright yellow bill. The downy young of Western are grey; Clark's downy young are white.
Western Grebes nest in colonies of hundreds on large inland lakes, sometimes using coastal marshes, in western North America. It has a spectacular courtship display; two birds will rear up and patter across the water's surface. Northern birds migrate west to coastal ocean in winter; birds in the southwest and Mexico may be permanent residents.
Food and feeding
- BirdLife International (2012). "Aechmophorus occidentalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/106003646. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Etymology: Aechmophorus, "spear-bearer", from Ancient Greek aichme (a spear) + phoros (one who bears something around), in reference to its bill; occidentalis: Latin for "western".
-  (2011).
- CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
- Burnie D and Wilson DE (Eds.), Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. DK Adult (2005), ISBN 0789477645
- Howard, Hildegarde (1946): A review of the Pleistocene birds of Fossil Lake, Oregon. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publications 551: 141-195.
- Jehl, Joseph R. Jr (1967): Pleistocene Birds from Fossil Lake, Oregon. Condor 69(1): 24-27 PDF fulltext
- Miller, Loye H. (1911): Additions to the avifauna of the Pleistocene deposits at Fossil Lake, Oregon. University of California Publications, Bulletin of the Department of Geology 6: 79-87.
- Storer, Robert W. (1989): The Pleistocene Western Grebe Aechmophorus (Aves, Podicipedidae) from Fossil Lake, Oregon: A comparison with Recent material. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan 27(12): 321-326. PDF fulltext