Posted by: atowhee | June 14, 2011


Behold the Orange-breasted Grebe, a hitherto unreported bird that we encountered in a flooded field along Lawen Road north of Malheur Lake.  It was consorting with similar, ordinary-looking Western Grebes.  In fact, there were two orange-breasted grebes in the small flotilla.  This first picture was taken by Larry Wright.  Here’s my own image of the OB Grebe:

And here’s one next to two regular-looking Western Grebes.

So what causes this coloration?  A hybrid of Western X Red-necked?  Some staining on the feather similar to what turns Sandhill Cranes rust colored?

The BNA Online makes no mention of hybridization, nor of plumage staining.  Any suggestions as to cause of the orangeness would be appreciated.

One correspondent tells me that UC Davis is researching the possibility that this staining is caused by oil in the water. Click on this link to see report on similarly stained grebes in California lakes.


  1. […] American Bittern (heard) east of MFS: Great Blue Heron; Great Egret; Black-crowned Night-heron; White-faced Ibis in the hundreds; Osprey at Howard Prairie and Collier State Park; Bald Eagle; Harrier; Swainson’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginou Hawk; Golden Eagle; Kestrel; Sora (heard); Common Moorhen–Klamath Marsh; Coot; Sandhill Crane including one chick see in deep grass along Lawen Road; Killdeer; Black-necked Stilt nesting; American Avocet nesting; Willet; Long-billed Curlew; Wilson’s Snipe; Wilson’s Phalarope; Franklin’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Caspian Tern–Howard Prairie; Forster’s Tern; Black Tern; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Mourning Dove; Great Horned Owl–two families; Common Nighthawk in abundance, even feeding mid-day; Red-breasted Sapsucker at Collier SP; White-headed Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Olive-sided Flycatcher–RP & HQ;  Western Wood-Pewee; Willow Flycatcher; Gray Flycatcher; Cordilleran Flycatcher–HQ; Say’s Phoebe–MFS and other places; Western Kingbird; Loggerhead Shrike; Cassin’s Vireo–HQ; Warbling Vireo; Steller’s Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Raven; Horned Lark–The Narrows; Tree Swallow; Violet-green Swallow; Northern Rough-winged Swallow; Cliff Swallow; Barn Swallow; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; House Wren; Marsh Wren; Mountain Bluebird–Sage Hen Hill Rest Area; American Robin; Sage Thrasher; Starling; Cedar Waxwing–HQ; Yellow Warbler–ubiquitous; Cape May Warbler–HQ; Common Yellowthroat; Wilson’s Warbler; Yellow-breasted Chat; Western Tanager; Green-tailed Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Brewer’s Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Lark Sparrow–PS; Sage Sparrow–east of Silver Lake and at Malheur; Song Sparrow; Black-headed Grosbeak; Bobolink at Malheur on Central Patrol Rd and Diamond Road; Red-winged Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Brown-headed Cowbird; Bullock’s Oriole; Cassin’s Finch–Sage Hen Hill; Pine Siskin–HQ; American Goldfinch; House Sparrow.  In addition, one lady in our group saw a few Chukar on a rocky slope while the rest of us were mesmerized by a Loggerhead Shrike.    OTHER POSTS ABOUT THIS TRIP:  Young Great Horned Owl and Red-tails on the ground.  Orange-stained Aecmorphus grebes. […]

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