[CT Birds] Invasion of the Red-necked Grebes

jaybrd49 at aol.com jaybrd49 at aol.com
Sun Mar 1 11:22:27 EST 2015

Red-necked Grebe is not a bird one expects here in nw CT, other than during migration on some of our larger lakes and reservoirs.   In my many years as director of Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton, we have had exactly one red-necked grebe brought to us.  This occurred in 1979, when an individual was frozen into the Farmington River in New Hartford during a sudden freeze.  The bird was uninjured and was released into another section of the River where there was ample open water. Imagine my surprise on 28 February, yesterday, when within a 30 minute span, two red-necked grebes were brought into the Nature Center.  The first was found along a roadside in Burlington not far from Nepaug Reservoir.  The bird was in full adult plumage and appeared to be in good health.  The second bird was found, inexplicably, in a Torrington backyard.  This bird, in typical winter garb, was also uninjured.  Both birds had no apparent injuries, they were not thin, and were active even calling loudly when handled.  When put together in a large carrier, the birds viciously attacked one another and had to be immediately separated.  Both birds had a nice swim in my bath tub and were fed bait fish which they readily ate.  The bird in breeding plumage even showed its disdain by flaring out its head feathers a behavior I would not have expected in late February.  The plan is to meet Greg Hanisek later this afternoon at an undisclosed location along the Connecticut coast and to release these birds into Long Island Sound.  Will there be more grebe reports with most water frozen?  Bet most Connecitcut birders do not have this species on their yard lists!

Jay Kaplan

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