Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Pied-billed grebe
Podilymbus podiceps

 

Taxonomy
Occurence in Illinois
Status
Habitat associations
Guilds
Food-habits
Environmental associations
Life history
Management practices
References


TAXONOMY

 

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Podicipediformes
  • Family: Podicipedidae
  • Genus: Podilymbus
  • Species: Podilymbus podiceps
  • Authority: Linnaeus

Comments on taxonomy:
Other names: american dabchick; carolina grebe; dabchick; devil diver; dive-dapper; dipper; hell-diver; pied-billed dabchick; thick- billed grebe; water witch *05*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Common migrant. Fairly common summer resident in north. Uncommon summer resident in central. Rare summer resident in south. Uncommon winter resident in central and south. Occasional winter resident in north *02*.

 


STATUS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories
Forest Service Categories: S = recommended for regional sensitive status, F = forest listed species, M = management indicator species

Federal Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed for listing
Candidate for proposal Recovery plan approved Recovery plan received (USFWS)
Recovery plan in preparation Under notice of review Delisted
Migratory EPA indicator Forest Serv.- Shawnee species

State Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed

Other:

Game Furbearer Nongame protected
Sportfish Commercial Pest None of the above

Comments on status:
P. podiceps is protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code of 1971 *03* and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 *04*.

 


HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories

General habitat:

Unknown Terrestrial Aquatic Riparian

USFS timber inventory forest size class:

Unknown Unstocked Seedling Sapling
Seedling/sapling Pole Mature Over mature

Land use and land cover:

Unknown   Urban Residential
Commercial
Industrial
Transportation, communication
Complex industrial/commercial
Mixed
Other
Agricultural Crop, pasture
Orchards, groves, nurseries
Feedlot
Other
Rangeland Herbaceous
Shrub and brush
Mixed
Forestland Deciduous
Evergreen
Mixed
Water Stream
Lake
Reservoir
Bay
Wetland Forest
Non-forest
Barren Salt flat
Beach
Sand
Rock
Mine
Transit
Mix

 


Forest cover types: No records.

Associated tree species: No records.

National wetland inventory classifications:

SystemSubsystemClassSubclassWater regime modifiersWater chemistry
Lacustrine Limnetic Emergent vegetation   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Lacustrine Limnetic Open water of unknown bottom type   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Lacustrine Littoral Emergent vegetation Nonpersistent Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Lacustrine Littoral Unconsolidated bottom   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Palustrine   Emergent vegetation Persistent Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Palustrine   Forest Needle-leaved deciduous Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Palustrine   Forest Dead trees Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Palustrine   Scrub/shrub Broad-leaved deciduous Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Lower perennial Aquatic bed Floating Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Lower perennial Emergent vegetation   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Lower perennial Open water of unknown bottom type   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Unknown perennial Emergent vegetation Nonpersistent Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Unknown perennial Unconsolidated bottom   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified

Comments on species-habitat associations:
Found on saltwater bays and estuaries, but more common on freshwater ponds, streams, and marshes with emergent water plants; also found along open waters in marshes, and shores of inlets and bays *05*.

Important plant and animal association: No comments.

High value habitats

HabitatStructural stageSeason
Bays and estuaries Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Wetland Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Marsh Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Lakes and ponds Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Streams Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All

Species-habitat interrelations: Found on saltwater bays and estuaries, but more common on freshwater ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and marshes with emergent water plants; also found along open waters in marshes, and shores of inlets and bays *05,07,08*. Prefer ponds less than 7 ha. *21* especially with dense stands of emergent vegetation *11,18,19,20,21*. Nest in fairly shallow water; usually near to open water *11,19,22*.

 


GUILDS

Comments on feed-guilding:
Feeds mainly in freshwater ponds and marshes; dives for food *05*. Food is mostly insects, fish and crayfish *05*.

 

Breed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonBreed-Guilds
Lakes and ponds Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer River/lake/marsh, vascular plants- floating, nonwoody, nonrooted
River/lake/marsh, vascular plants- floating, nonwoody, rooted
Marsh Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer River/lake/marsh, vascular plants- floating, nonwoody, nonrooted
River/lake/marsh, vascular plants- floating, nonwoody, rooted

 

Comments on breed-guilding:
Nest is platform of floating aquatic vegetation, usually anchored to bottom of pond *18,20,22*. Often bouyed up by bulrush stems *18*. Made of flags, rushes, sedges, algae, and mud, often attached to grasses, reeds, or bushes in the water *05*.

 


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is CARNIVORE

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Plants Fruit/seeds
Plants See comments
Tracheophyta (vascular plants) Fruit/seeds
Tracheophyta (vascular plants) See comments
Monocotyledonae (monocots) Fruit/seeds
Monocotyledonae (monocots) See comments
Mollusca Adult
Mollusca: Gastropoda (snails) Adult
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Adult
Crustaceans Adult
Malacostraca (isopods, amphipods, crayfishes) Adult
Insecta Juvenile
Ephemeroptera (mayflies) Juvenile
Odonata (dragonflies, damselfiles) Juvenile
Hemiptera Adult
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Adult
Osteichthyes (bony fishes) Unknown
Anguilliformes (American eel) Adult
Cypriniformes (carps, minnows, loaches) Adult
Siluriformes (catfishes) Adult
Gasterosteiformes (sticklebacks, pipefishes, seahorses) Adult
Amphibians Adult
Salientia (frogs, toads) Juvenile
Salientia (frogs, toads) Adult
Important:
Juvenile:
Insecta Juvenile
Odonata (dragonflies, damselfiles) Juvenile
Adult:
Plants Fruit/seeds
Plants See comments
Tracheophyta (vascular plants) Fruit/seeds
Tracheophyta (vascular plants) See comments
Monocotyledonae (monocots) Fruit/seeds
Monocotyledonae (monocots) See comments
Mollusca Adult
Mollusca: Gastropoda (snails) Adult
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Adult
Crustaceans Adult
Malacostraca (isopods, amphipods, crayfishes) Adult
Insecta Juvenile
Ephemeroptera (mayflies) Juvenile
Odonata (dragonflies, damselfiles) Juvenile
Hemiptera Adult
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Adult
Osteichthyes (bony fishes) Unknown
Anguilliformes (American eel) Adult
Cypriniformes (carps, minnows, loaches) Adult
Siluriformes (catfishes) Adult
Gasterosteiformes (sticklebacks, pipefishes, seahorses) Adult
Amphibians Adult
Salientia (frogs, toads) Juvenile
Salientia (frogs, toads) Adult

Comments on food habits: 
General: Will also eat soft parts of aquatic plants *05*; main food is fish (24%), crayfish (27%), insects (43%); some fish are carp, catfish, eels, roach, sticklebacks, sculpins, silversides, top minnows; insects include nymphs of dragonflies and damselflies, diving beetles, wasps, bees, ants; also eats snails, spiders, frogs and tadpoles, and some seeds and soft parts of aquatic plants *05*.
Juvenile: No comments.
Adult: See [FH], general & important food habits.


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Aquatic habitat: shallows with emergent vegetation (littoral zone)
  • Water level: permanent
  • Water level: see comments
  • Water depth preference: < 1 ft.
  • Water depth preference: 1-5 ft.
  • Water depth preference: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: freshwater marsh
  • Aquatic habitats: freshwater marsh
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Unknown

Egg

  • Unknown

Feeding juvenile:

  • Aquatic habitat: shallows with emergent vegetation (littoral zone)
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments

Resting juvenile:

  • Aquatic habitat: shallows with emergent vegetation (littoral zone)
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments

Feeding adult:

  • Aquatic habitat: shallows with emergent vegetation (littoral zone)
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments

Resting adult:

  • Aquatic habitat: shallows with emergent vegetation (littoral zone)
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments

Breeding adult:

  • Aquatic habitat: shallows with emergent vegetation (littoral zone)
  • Water level: see comments
  • Water depth preference: < 1 ft.
  • Water depth preference: 1-5 ft.
  • Water depth preference: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Standing water, fresh *08*; associated with both seasonally and flooded wetlands; is found on ponds, rivers, lakes, fresh, coastal and brackish marshes having emergent vegetation; also found along open water of marshes and shores of inlets and bays *05,07*; herbaceous ground cover, nesting *08*.
Feeding juvenile: Young feed while on parents back when in ponds or marshes having emergent vegetation; or open water *07*; use cattail, bulrush *18,19*; burreed *18* spike rush *11*, arrowhead *27* sedge *11,18*. Prefer ponds <7 ha *21* with dense stands of emergent vegetation *03,11,18,19,21*.
Resting juvenile: Young rest in marshes or ponds having open water or emergent vegetation, and on nest of reeds or grasses *07*; use cattail, bulrush *18,19*; burreed *18*, spike rush *11*, arrowhead *22*, sedge *11,18*. Prefer ponds < 7 ha *21* with dense stands of emergent veg. *11,18,19,20,21*. In LA, broods usu. found in areas of open water at least 2 ha in size *20*.
Feeding adult: Feeds on ponds and marshes having emergent vegetation, also on lakes, rivers and in coastal and brackish marshes *07*. Use cattail, bulrush *18,19*; burreed *18*, spike rush *11*, arrowhead *22*, sedge *11,18*. Prefer ponds < 7 ha *21* with dense stands of emergent vegetation *11,18,19,20,21*.
Resting adult: Rest on open water or in emergent vegetation *07*. Use cattail, bulrush *18,19*; burreed *18*, spike rush *11*, arrowhead *22*, sedge *11,18*. Prefer ponds < 7 ha *21* with dense stands of emergent veg. *11,18,19,20,21*.
Breeding adult: Breeds on ponds with shore and emergent vegetation; marshes having areas of open water; marshy inlets and bays *07*; need fairly stable water levels so nests don't become stranded *11*. Use cattail, bulrush *18,19*; burreed *18*, spike rush *11*, arrowhead *22*, sedge *11,18*. Nest in fairly shallow water; in IA, nest over water 15-25 in. Deep *11* in WI, nests over water avg. 2 ft. deep *22*; in Manitoba, don't nest in water < 12.7 cm deep *19*. In LA, nest in water 8-12 in. deep *20*. Prefer ponds < 7 ha *21* with dense emergent veg. *11,18,19,20,21*. In IA, nests avg. 25.8 ft. from patch of open water *11*. In Manitoba, nests avg. 1.3 m from open water *19*. Polygonum used for nesting cover *27*. Additional ref. for br. adult niche: *11,27*.


LIFE HISTORY

Origin: Native *02*.

Physical description: 12-15 in. long with a 23 in. wingspread; small, stocky bird distinguished by its short, blunt bill encircled by a broad black band with the upper portion of the bill curved downward; brownest of the grebes and is the only one that doesn't have white wing patch; has white undertail coverts; in winter, no black on throat, chin and bill *05*.

Reproduction: The nest is built by both members of the pair and is made up of flags, rushes, sedge, algae and mud and is attached to grasses, reeds or bushes in the water, usually takes 3-7 days to build and is well-concealed; eggs are laid from march-sept. And are blue-white initially and then turn brown; 4-7 eggs/clutch laid at a rate of 1/day; 2 broods/year *05*; incubation takes about 23 days and begins with the first egg laid *09*.

Behavior: Incubation is carried out mostly by the female; streaked or spotted chicks can swim almost immediately after hatching; the young will usually travel on parents back or will cling to their tail; the parents may feed the chicks while on their back and may even dive; the parents will return to the nest frequently with the young and during incubation the parents will cover the nest with water soaked material when they are absent *05,10*; species exhibits territoriality about the nest site; defended area is usually included within an arc of about 150 feet around the nest; home range is usually about twice the size of the nesting territory *11*; rarely flies and escapes by diving with a short leap or slowly by submerging; it is the most solitary of the grebes; the first grebe to arrive north in the spring and the last to leave in the fall; migrates in closely-massed flocks; swims much more than it flies *05,10*.

Limiting factors: Greatest losses of nests and eggs resulted from wind, rain, and storm tides; predators of eggs and young include raccoons (Procyon lotor), laughing gulls (Larus atricilla), and water snakes (Natrix sp.) *09*; Parasites: Schistotaenia tenuicirrus *12*; diseases and parasites general reference *13,14*; bacterial: cholera *15*; helminths: nematodes *16*, trematodes *17*.

Population parameters: In one study 89.6% of nests were successfully in producing some young; 10.3% were either abandoned or destroyed by adverse weather or predators *09*.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Controlling sedimentation
  • Controlling pollution in aquatic habitats
  • Controlling water levels
  • Controlling water levels
  • Developing/maintaining lakes and ponds
  • Developing/maintaining wetlands
  • Maintaining bogs
  • Limiting access of livestock to banks and water
  • Controlling undesirable vertebrate species (feral dogs, etc.)
  • Developing/maintaining water holes, ponds, potholes, etc.
  • Restricting human disturbance during migration, breeding, and nesting
  • Animal management practices other than those included in ifwis list (see comments)

Adverse:

  • Channelization
  • Navigational improvements such as channelization and locks and dams
  • Dredging
  • Draining wetlands
  • Aquatic habitat management practices other than those included in ifwis lists (see comments)
  • Applying herbicides
  • Application of pesticides
  • Application of insecticides

Comments on management practices:
Control water level fluctuations to obtain optimum vegetational development and to reduce nest loss, and increase trapping of fur- bearers, particularly raccoons (Procyon lotor) *11*; beneficial to maintain water levels and emergent vegetation for nesting, April through July *27*.

 


REFERENCES

0. VINARDI, T.A. 1000K FOXRIDGE, BLACKSBURG, VA. 24060.

1. MISSOURI DEPT. OF CONSERVATION.

2. BOHLEN, H.D. 1978. AN ANNOTATED CHECK-LIST OF THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM POP. SCI. SERIES. VOL. IX. 156 PP.

3. ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CONSERVATION. 1980. CONSERVATION LAWS. CH. 61. WILDLIFE ART. II. PAR. 2.2. REPRINTED FROM ILLINOIS REVISED STATUTES, 1979. WEST PUBL. CO., ST. PAUL, MN. 120 PP.

4. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE. 1983. CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS TITLE 50. WILDLIFE & FISHERIES CHAPTER 1. PP. 11-18 50 CFR 10.13. LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS SPECIAL PUBL. FED. REGISTER GENERAL SERVICES ADMIN. OCT. 1.

5. TERRES, J.K. 1982. AUDUBON SOCIETY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. ALFRED A. KNOPF, N.Y.

6. AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION. 1983. CHECK-LIST OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 6TH EDITION. ALLEN PRESS, INC. LAWRENCE, KANSAS. 877 PP.

7. PALMER, R.S. 1962. HANDBOOK OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. VOL. I. YALE UNIV. PRESS, NEW HAVEN, CONN.

8. LEGRAND, H.E., JR., AND P.B. HAMEL. 1980. BIRD-HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS ON SOUTHEASTERN FOREST LANDS. DEP. ZOOL., CLEMSON UNIV., CLEMSON S.C. NUMBER OF PAGES: 276 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

9. CHABRECH, R.H. 1963. BREEDING HABITATS OF THE PIED-BILLED GREBE IN AN IMPOUNDED COASTAL MARSH IN LOUISIANA. AUK 80:447-452.

10. UNKNOWN. 1936. BIRDS OF AMERICA. PEARSON, G.T., ED. GARDEN CITY PUBL. CO., GARDEN CITY, N.Y.

11. GLOVER, F.M. 1953. NESTING ECOLOGY OF THE PIED-BILLED GREBE IN NORTHWESTERN IOWA. WILSON BULL. 65:32-39.

12. UNKNOWN. 0000. UNKNOWN. PROC. LOUISIANA ACAD. SCI. 37:89-103.

13. FOWLER, M.E. 1978. MISCELLANEOUS WATERBIRDS (GAVIIFORMES, PODICIPEDIFORMES, PROCELLARIFORMES, PELICANIFORMES, AND CHARADRIIFORMES). PAGES 213-217 ZOO AND WILD ANIMAL MEDICINE. FOWLER, M.E., ED. W.B. SAUNDERS CO., PHILADELPHIA.

14. WOBESER, G.A. 1981. DISEASES OF WILD WATERFOWL.

15. MONTGOMERY, R.D., G. STEIN, JR., V.D. STOTTS, AND F.H. SETTLE. 1979. THE 1978 EPORNITIC OF AVIAN CHOLERA ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY. AVIAN DIS. 23(4):966-978.

16. COOPER, L.C., J.L. CRITES, AND J.S. FASTZKIE. 1978. EXPERIMENTAL AND NATURAL INFECTIONS OF EUSTRONGYLIDES SP. (NEMATODA: DIOCTOPHYMATIDAE) IN WATERFOWL AND SHORE BIRDS. AVIAN DIS. 22(4): 790-792.

17. VANDEVUSSE, F.J. 1980. A REVIEW OF THE GENUS DENDRITOBILHARZIA SKRJABIN AND ZAKHAROW 1920 (TREMATODA: SCHISTOSOMATIDAE). J. PARASITOL. 66(5):814-822.

18. 25M

19. 26M

20. 27M

21. 28M

22. 29M

23. 36M

24. 38M

25. 34M

26. 30M

27. 03M

 


 

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