27 April 2018
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) is known in many parts of the world as Slavonian Grebe, although it is interesting to note that when that name was applied in the 19th Century in England it was spelled 'Sclavonian', replacing the original - and more appropriate - English name 'Horned Dabchick'. (The Grebes (2004), Fjeldsa, J., Oxford University Press).
This species migrates through southern Ontario spring and fall, regularly appearing on lakes and ponds in Waterloo Region. Its appearance is generally brief, only a few days in duration, as it makes its way north to its breeding grounds in subarctic wetlands.
It is a very handsome species in breeding plumage, with pronounced nuptial plumes. The head is glossy black with a broad golden band passing over the eye ending in large ear tufts (horns). In fully developed breeding plumage the neck and upper breast are bright rufous. The eye is intensely red.
Miriam and I spent a very agreeable half hour with four Horned Grebes at Laurel Creek Conservation Area, where they came quite close to shore, and were actively (and successfully) diving for minnows.
The next time we see this species will be after the leaves have fallen from the trees, in its drabber definitive basic plumage. At any time of the year it is a very welcome visitor to southern Ontario.