In our recent Klamath Basin trip, we encountered a strange smallish Grebe on Tule Lake, that Taghrid and I had decided, after some struggles, to identify as a Western Grebe. A photo of it was included in the album I posted on Flickr, but I’m also including it at the bottom of this message.
Since posting the album, several folks have suggested this may be a Horned Grebe, presumably based on size, and other attributes they didn’t elaborate on.
Anyways, enough doubt/questions are now raised about this Grebe that we’d like to get more inputs on this ID.
Here are reasons for why we went with Western Grebe (possibly what’s referred to as a “Downy” in Sibley’s?):
• Yellowish bill - seems to rule out Horned and Eared. I have not been able to find any Horned/Eared Grebe photos showing such a yellowish bill on those species
• Absence of the red line from eye to base of bill also seems to go against Horned/Eared
• Not enough orange to qualify for Clark’s
• Throat seems too clean/white for Red-throated
This process of elimination left us with Western at the end of the day. Maybe a juvenile or “Downy” Western?
Anyways, we would welcome any inputs or other important attributes we might have missed that should have made the ID easier and more clear-cut. Confirmation of our ID would also be welcome :-).