Western Grebes with Chicks

My favorite part of Monday’s time spent at Malheur was watching Western Grebes in various stages of raising their young. There was so much going on that I’ve never seen that I could have spent another five days shooting just them.

It was clear that parents were in various stages of raising their young. This little guy nearly jumped out of the water when the parent caught a large fish, ready for a quick snack:

Dinner Time!

However, the adult didn’t just feed the chick. At first I wondered if it was even its parent, but after swimming away from the chick, the adult finally slowed and let the chick eat.

Feeding Time

Apparently the parent was trying to encourage the chick to swim as fast, and as far, as it could.

Parents with younger chicks acted quite differently. It was obvious from all the calls in the air as I walked closer that parents were calling their chicks. I watched as one chick, obviously younger and smaller than the one I’d photographed earlier, climbed onto its parent’s back. First one,

Western Grebe with Chick on Back

then another


Western Grebe with Chicks on Back

with a third trying to find a place to ride.

I got a lot of shots I liked, but my favorite was this one of a parent apparently cradling its chick in her wings.

Western Grebe with Chick on Back