HORNED GREBE(Podiceps auritus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Horned Grebe is a small waterbird. Breeding adults have a reddish brown neck, upper breast and sides. The crown and back are black, as well as their long cheek feathers, which give the birds a large head appearance. The under parts are whitish. The short, pointed bill and lobed feet are black, and the eyes are red. In non-breeding adults, the head is black and the cheeks white with no ‘horn’ feathers, and the upper parts are dark grey. The under parts are light grey, and the bill is also grey. When flying the white secondaries are visible. Both sexes are very similar. The bird measures around 35 cm (14 inches) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Podiceps-auritus
NAME: The English name ‘Grebe’ might come from a Breton word that means ‘crest’. The Latin genus name ‘Podiceps’ means ‘rump’ and ‘foot’, and refers to the placement of the birds’ feet near the rump. The Latin species name ‘auritus’ comes from ‘ear’, and refers to the pale yellow tufts of feathers behind the eye that the bird can raise into ‘horns’, hence the English adjective in that species name. The horned grebe is also called Slavonian Grebe.
HABITAT: Ponds and marshlands during breeding season. Prefers natural habitats to man-made reservoirs or ponds. In the winter: large bodies of water along the coasts.
DIET: Small fish and aquatic insects and other invertebrates, caught by diving and eaten while under water.
NESTING: Horned grebes build their nests in a well-sheltered location near water. Around six light blue-green eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents. They also both feed the young. They carry their chicks on their backs when on the water, even diving with them on their backs.
DISTRIBUTION: The horned grebe breeding range covers the western part of Canada, especially the Prairies, and also parts of Europe and Asia. During migration it stays along the coasts of those continents. Some individuals have been able to reach Hawaii. (See note below for information on bird vagrancy.)
DISTRIBUTION MAP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horned_grebe#/media/File:Slavonian_Grebe-location-map-en.svg
ON PEI: The horned grebe does not breed on Prince Edward Island. Its occurrence on the island varies from uncommon to accidental, depending on the seasons.
CONSERVATION: The horned grebe is considered as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN, and of ‘special concern’ by COSEWIC. One factor for its population decline is habitat loss from wetland drainage for agriculture and development, also from droughts. Other threats include being caught in fishing nets, increasing spread of predators, competition from other species, and water pollution.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/horned-grebe

Horned grebe, Alberta, by Connor Mah
Horned grebe, Alberta, by Connor Mah
Horned grebe, nonbreeding plumage -  Biloxi, MS, by Dick Daniels, Mar. 13, 2012
Horned grebe, nonbreeding plumage
Biloxi, MS, by Dick Daniels
Horned Grebe with young – Potter’s Marsh, Anchorage Coastal Refuge, AK – June 15, 2005 – Donna Dewhurst, USFWS
Horned grebe with young
by Donna Dewhurst, USFWS, AK