Look carefully for the second juvenile
As far as I know this is the first breeding record for Pied-billed Grebe in Sitka, and it seems to be one of only a handful in the Alaska (a couple in Ketchikan and one from the Copper River). This summer I first noticed Pied-billed Grebe on Swan Lake early in June. I heard from a visiting birder that it had been observed singing within a day or two after. Subsequently, I thought I saw it again on 4 July, but did not get a good enough look to be sure, so I inquired from other local birders and heard that one was seen in late June. Last week I saw it again on two different days, with two birds observed the second time. Finally, this morning, I observed at least one adult (but I think probably two) and two juveniles seen in these photos.
Looking at the past reports of Pied-billed Grebes in Sitka, I notice there are a couple of years where the pattern of occurrence suggests possible breeding with observations in May and August. Given how difficult the birds have been to observe this summer after the first couple of days – several times I’ve gone by the lake looking for them and have not been able to find any, and on those occasions when I have seen them, they quickly swim away – it is not implausible that breeding took place.
Thanks to Bill Tweit and Carrie Hisaoka for reports of these birds. The information about prior breeding records comes from the paper “Birds of Ketchikan Area, Southeast Alaska” written by Steve Heinl and Andy Piston and published in Western Birds vol 40 no 2, 2009. Prior records for Sitka are referenced from Marge Ward and Marlys Tedin’s observations.