Alberta has 6 types of Grebes ranging from the tiny Pied-billed to the larger and very vocal, Western Grebe. These birds are built very much like loons in that their legs are placed at the end of their body near the tail leaving them unable to stand and walk like other birds. They need a long run on water to be able to take off taking about 20 steps per second. This leaves grebes at an advantage if they find themselves on land. We often see “grounded” grebes on roads after a rainstorm. Wet pavement can confuse them into thinking it is a river, so they land on a very hard surface and are grounded, rarely doing any major damage.
We see most of these grounded grebes in the fall and spring as grebes are migrating. People often mistake these birds as ducks and can’t understand why they aren’t flying. This fall if you see a bird with a fat body, long beak, and possibly red eyes, on the ground that isn’t flying, text us a picture for ID and we’ll help direct you as to what to do.