Territorial display by Red-necked Grebes

Red-necked grebes are the arctic species found in the northern waters. They winter along the north Pacific and Atlantic coastlines and move inland for breeding. I have seen them on small lakes and water bodies in the sub-arctic and tundra regions in Alaska.

Red-necked Grebes are very territorial, not only against other Red-necked Grebes but also against other water birds. Both males and females are involved in protecting their territory. A variety of chases and attacks are used, including an underwater attack in which the grebe swims underneath the intruder and jabs its underside with its bill.

We were out on a small lake in Nome, Alaska, as the sun was setting at about 10:30 PM. This pair was busy building their nest at the far end of the lake, keeping a watchful eye on any intruders. With the sun setting behind, I captured this moment when both of them were calling out loud.

Why this photo works

I got in my waders and sat at the lake's edge with my tripod submerged in the water and camera just above the water surface. The beautiful evening golden light lit up the grebes as they swam towards me, calling out loud. I like how their bodies are touching each other, ear tufts raised slightly, and both birds looking at each other form a beautiful heart shape. I can almost hear their call in this photograph.

I captured this action at eye level by getting very low in the water, creating a very intimate photograph. The low angle created a pleasingly blurred foreground and background, making these birds stand out even more. 


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Technical Details

 Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
 EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM
 MAY 31, 2013 @ 10:40 PM

Using Format