In last week's article I discussed some of the unusual winter waterfowl we can observe in our county. This week I would like to conclude this discussion with another look at a few more uncommon or unusual members of this group of water resident birds that we hope we can observe between now and the onset of spring 2010.
Last week the Red-necked Grebe, White Pelican, Red-throated Loon and the Common Loon were discussed and presented. This week I will conclude this discussion with the presentation of the following locally identified waterfowl such as the Horned Grebe, Western Grebe, Least Grebe and Little Grebe.
The Horned Grebe arrives in our county around the start of October and returns north by the end of May, It is a classic winter visitor to our lakes. A rarer find in our area is the Western Grebe; an unusual visitor to our waterways that may be identified when severe weather conditions force the bird to arrive in this part of the country and is considered an excellent find by birders. There are only four accepted records of this bird in New York state.
The Horned Grebe normally breeds in North America; it breeds from Alaska and northern Manitoba south to Wisconsin and Ontario. This grebe is an unusual summer visitor to our county and lake area, while at the same time; it is considered a regular winter visitor to the other great lakes. However, it is usually a uncommon visitor in our county in summer. Even though the bird can be found in good numbers on inland bodies of water, they seem to favor the larger lakes such as Lake Erie, Chautauqua and some of the larger Finger Lakes.
The Western Grebe in the meantime is a bird found in North America from Alaska to Ontario, breeding from the northwestern area of Alaska to the western province of Ontario. While never an abundant bird in our area, it has been sometimes considered common in this part of the state from late October to the end of the year and again from January to mid April. The inland record sighting was 73 birds in Seneca County in 1994. Several ornithologists have recommended that more frequent surveys be conducted in hopes of obtaining more accurate data on this species. It is also suggested that the county and other birding organizations sponsor more frequent census counts in hopes of obtaining increased and accurate data of this and several other waterfowl in our area.
The last two members of this group to be covered this week are the rare Eared Grebe and Little Grebe.
The Eared Grebe is considered a rare migrant and winter visitor to the great lakes. It was first reported in New York state on the south shore of Long Island in 1938 and in the Great Lakes area in 1948. There currently are sporadic records over the years from Chautauqua County from late October to late April, of sightings. This is a bird to be watched for by local birding and nature organizations as well as enthusiastic local naturalists over the next few years.
The last bird in this article is the Little Grebe. This is a European bird that has been occasionally reported, however, I could not find any data of this species from our continent. If any one has such information, I would be most appreciative for receiving it. Thank you.
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