As a Wildlife Photographer, there’s nothing quite like spending time in nature and capturing images of animals in their natural habitats. From birds soaring through the sky to mammals on the ground, every moment presents an opportunity to capture a unique and captivating image.
One of my recent photography trips took me to Miner’s Cove, located in the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. It was here that I was lucky enough to observe and photograph a variety of waterfowl, including the Pied-billed Grebe.
This small diving bird caught my attention as I watched it dive into the water and come up with small prey in its beak. But what was even more interesting was its behavior after catching a crayfish. The Pied-billed Grebe would bring the crayfish to the surface and toss and shake it vigorously, seemingly trying to get rid of the crayfish’s claws and some legs.
This behavior is actually quite common among Pied-billed Grebes, who have adapted to feed on crustaceans like crayfish. The reason for this behavior is that the claws and some legs of crustaceans are often spiny and can get caught in the bird’s throat. By shaking the crayfish, the Pied-billed Grebe is able to remove the claws and some legs and safely swallow its meal.
Watching this behavior in action was truly fascinating, and it reminded me of the incredible adaptations that wildlife have developed to survive and thrive in their environments. It also reinforced the importance of preserving and protecting these habitats, such as Miner’s Cove at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, so that future generations can continue to observe and appreciate the natural world.
Overall, my time at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge was a wonderful reminder of the beauty and complexity of nature, and I can’t wait to continue exploring and capturing images of the amazing wildlife around us.
- Camera: Canon EOS R7
- Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date and Time Taken: March 10, 2023 (09:44 A. M.)
- Exposure Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f8
- Shutter speed: 1/3200
- ISO: 1250 (Auto)
- Focal Length: 500 mm
Unique Facts About The Pied-billed Grebe Tossing and Shaking Prey:
- Pied-billed Grebes have been observed shaking their prey for up to 20 seconds before swallowing it.
- The shaking motion not only removes spiny claws and legs, but also helps break up the crayfish’s exoskeleton, making it easier to swallow.
- Pied-billed Grebes are not the only birds to exhibit this behavior. Other bird species, such as the Western Grebe, also shake and toss their prey before eating.
- In addition to crayfish, Pied-billed Grebes also feed on other small aquatic animals like fish, insects, and snails.
- Pied-billed Grebes are skilled divers and can remain underwater for up to 30 seconds while hunting for prey.