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I had a life look this afternoon.  It was a Pied-billed Grebe.  Big
deal?!  Yup, it was, because it is only the second PBGR I've ever really
watched (the first was a displaying male a couple of springs ago).

What was so special about this one?  Well, it was out of the water, not
on a nest, but on a barkless log--one of several in the distribution
channel at Eagle Bluffs we call "turtle logs".  And it was preening.

My first impression was, "Oh, Grandmother, what big feet you have!"
They were big.  They'd have put Clementine and her 99s to shame.

And they were so far back that the bird sat nearly vertically upright.
In fact, the position and the preening action were very much like a cat
taking a major spit bath.

It fell off the log backwards as a result of a particularly vigorous
preening bill-push to the right upper breast.  It swam along the log,
made a half-hearted attempt to regain the perch, then swam to the next
log with an easier way up.  It clambered up, getting only a 2-second
one-eyed appraisal by the female Gadwall on the other end, who resumed
her nap.

The grebe resumed the vigorous preening.  The subtle color changes, the
"tweedy" look to the upper parts and the white belly were easy to see.
How far forward were the eyes--especially compared to those of the
Gadwall.  Hmm, and there is a little white strip at the corner of the
mouth.

Well, it was fun to watch and to really see a bird for the first time.
Sometimes "slow" birding days present special rewards.

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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