‘LEAST, BUT NOT LAST’: LEAST GREBES ON ABACO
The Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus is an adorable little dabchick that can be very entertaining to watch. These small birds are able to stay underwater for long enough to ensure they always bob up further away from you than you expect. They can easily stay below the surface for 20 seconds, and may dive again only a few seconds after surfacing (their taxonomic name comes from a Greek compound meaning ‘fast diving’). While underwater, the grebe forages for tiny fish, crustaceans, frogs and aquatic insects. In the breeding season the striped chicks are sometimes carried on a parent’s back.
For the sake of completeness, there is one other dabchick species found on Abaco, the closely related Pied-billed Grebe. Here’s how to tell them apart: the Least has a bright golden eye, while the Pied-billed is slightly the larger of the two species, and has a dark eye and a black beak-ring in the breeding season.