Bob Thobaben called me at 1045 this morning with the news that there was a Pied-billed Grebe at the duck pond in Denver Williams Park in Wilmington. (Click here for map.) I arrived at the pond about 1105 and despite the modest size of the pond, it took me 20 minutes to find the bird. It was feeding and spent only seconds on the surface before diving again. The small size of the pond and the ability of the grebe to swim long distances underwater meant that it could (and did) surface just about anywhere. In statistics, one would say that the point where it surfaced was not correlated with the point where it dove. Anyway, I could never predict where it would appear next, so that it sometimes took me as much as 20 minutes to reacquire the bird. The dozens of ducklings on the pond, the offspring of the numerous feral mallards did not help. They were roughly the same size and shape and I kept alerting on them. I have never worked so hard for a Pied-billed Grebe.

Peterjohn, in The Birds of Ohio, gives very few breeding locations for Pied-billed Grebe away from Lake Erie. There is certainly very little hope that this bird is likely to breed here, even if it should be so lucky as to find an equally errant mate.  Peterjohn writes, “Breeding Pied-billed Grebes are restricted to large marshes, particularly those exceeding ten acres in size, where dense emergent vegetation is interspersed with small openings.” It is thus exceedingly wondrous that this bird should appear on a tiny, manicured pond whose sole purpose is to provide a flock of tame waterfowl for the local children to feed bread crumbs to.

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