Western and Clark's Grebes are arguably the birds most readily associated with Lake Hodges. They are visible year around in great numbers. Grebes mainly eat fish, catching them by diving in open water. Both species have dramatic, choreographed courtship display, in which the birds rush across the water together. These large, elegant black and white water birds breed here in the winter months. During mating season they engage in a maneuver called rushing, in which they sprint up to 50 feet across the water in coordinated groups of two or more in about seven seconds.
When two Grebes come together it starts out with head bobbing, water splashing and then engage in “rushing” or “walking on water”. The two birds turn to one side, lunge forward in synchrony, their bodies completely out of the water, and race across the water side by side with their necks curved gracefully forward. It’s thrilling to watch. How they do it? A combination of up to 20 steps per second, forceful slaps on the water's surface with splayed feet, and an unusual stride help these grebes defy gravity, researchers report online in 2015 in the Journal of Experimental Biology. See photos at the end of the page.
Nesting: Grebes build floating nests, in areas with lots of reeds and trees submerged mostly under water. The Grebes do live in colonies, each colony could have up to 200 birds. 2019 is proving to start out well for the Grebes here on Lake Hodges. The Grebes not every year lay eggs and have chicks, but this year with the winter rains a perfect environment presented itself and the Grebes are taking advantage of it.
IMPORTANT UPDATE ** March 10th, 2019 ** GREBES NESTING
We are so thrilled to say that it is nesting season for the Grebes at Lake Hodges and we would kindly ask you to help these birds hatch the eggs by staying out of the nesting site. The boats and people cause extreme stress and the birds will leave the nest exposing the eggs to danger like predators and heat.
The current active nesting site is towards the 15 freeway, just passed the last right turn as you head out East. Please don't take boats, kayaks, paddle boards in area. If you like to view the activity, you can do so safely from the foot bridge above.
Thank you for your help for protecting this great wildlife resources of the area.
Please enjoy a few photos of our Western and Clark's Grebes here at Lake Hodges, CA.