Swimming in Duckweed

Back on November 14th, I wrote a blog post with a photo of a Northern Shoveler Devouring Duckweed. Today’s photo features a different bird – a Pied-billed Grebe swimming in a dense mat of duckweed. I captured this scene at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

Pied-billed Grebe In Duckweed

Pied-billed Grebe In Duckweed

The Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebes primarily eat insects, fish, and other small aquatic creatures. Their diet can vary depending on location and season. They are known to consume aquatic insects, crustaceans, small fish, leeches, mollusks, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, spiders, and small amounts of aquatic plants.

While there is no direct confirmation that Pied-billed Grebes specifically eat duckweed, there are observations of them swimming through patches of duckweed, likely in search of small aquatic creatures to feed on. So while duckweed may not be a primary part of their diet, these birds may ingest some amount of it accidentally while foraging.

The Duckweed Connection

The Pied-billed Grebe in my photo looks perfectly at home gliding through the dense mat of duckweed. And while the grebe may not directly consume the duckweed, the plant does provide habitat and cover for the small aquatic creatures that make up the grebe’s diet.

So while not a direct food source, the duckweed and the Pied-billed Grebe seem to have an indirect ecological connection – the plant shelters the invertebrates and other aquatic life that ultimately sustain this small water bird. Seeing the grebe surrounded by duckweed serves as a great reminder of these interconnections in the wetland ecosystem.

Image Information:

  • Date: 11/22/23
  • Time: 09:17 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 1600
  • Aperture: 7.1
  • Shutter: 1/800
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual