Podiceps cristatus

Great Crested grebe, Skäggdopping, Toppet lappedykker


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A happy family of Great Crested Grebes enjoying the peace and quiet of the reedbeds near the sunny banks of the small lake, Vejlesø, in northern Zealand, Denmark, on Wednesday June 15. 2005

A happy family indeed.

Crested Grebes spend the first three weeks of their lives, or most of it riding the back of the parents even though they are capable of swimming and diving almost at hatching.


This way one parent bird carries the downy young guy while the other one brings home food, constantly, and at an impressive pace. The busy parent bringing home the main diet, whole fish mostly, but also other stuff for inst. insects.

And the feather thing is interesting, and take look at the size of the fish at the picture. A fish that completely outsize the little guy and far to big for eating. Is this a joke. It can hardly serve other purpose, than as a toy, or maybe, if you like, some farsighted educational use.



The feather eating.

Its a well known fact that Great Crested Grebes eat their feathers, and that balls of whole or decomposed feathers fill up to 50 % of the birds stomach even at downy young fellows like this one. Less than a day or two old.

The reason for this we do not know for shure. One theory is that it helps the stomach of fish-eating birds like the Grebes deal with gastric parasites. Another one is that feather balls slow down the process of digestion thereby helping the gizzard of the birds to deal with the fish bones and debris rather than having it pass into the intestine.

Anyway they eat feathers and urge their little ones to do the same.

What fine instincts. This grown up bird seems to worry about the little guys digestion.

I could have stayed forever, and after sitting quiet, dead still for hours photographing, I find myself hard pressed not to project human feelings into these birds. Take a deep breath. Wild beasts are what they are.
Though truly the beauty of the scene and the beauty of the birds and their caring behavior towards the little guy, tends to cherish flourish dreams pushing your judgement way beyond common sense. Aren’t they almost expressing joy or pride. Who said anything about love.

What a day in the sun.


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