I kept waiting for all the Clark’s Grebes I saw to break out into a full-blown courtship dance, but it never happened. I suspect that almost everything I saw was a rehearsal, or perhaps a warm-up, for the real thing, a full-blown courtship.

This was the cutest sequence to me, though I’m assuming that they really weren’t courting here since there were four, not two, grebes. These three grebes seemed very concentrated on the approaching grebe.


Suddenly three of the grebes rose up in the water and took off faster than I could have imagined possible.


Almost as fast, two of the three stopped , while the third kept going, as seen by his wake going off-screen.


Eventually, even the third one stopped and the other three caught up with it,


and all four paddled off, just as if nothing had happened,


though the one that had gone the furthest suddenly started looking back


until all four disappeared behind the bushes.It certainly never looked like there was any real courtship going on here.

I recorded one other sequence where two grebes were preening and “necking.”

Curiously, all three sequences are part of the courtship shown in this famous BBC courtship sequence:

It’s electrifying watching the courtship on-screen, but it was equally thrilling watching the rehearsal in real life. Hopefully, I’ll live long enough to witness a full courtship live.

2 thoughts on “Rehearsal”

  1. Wow! These photos and the video make me want to see the Grebe’s stunning courtship behavior. I just checked and found that the Western Grebe summers and breeds here in Humboldt County. Interestingly, on all of our recent journeys to the local marsh there has been a seriously mysterious absence of birds. I hope to someday see this ritual dance. It’s spectacular. Beautiful photos.

    1. I think that is the video that inspired me to start looking harder for the grebes that I only see in the winter here in the Pacific Northwest.

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