“Patience on a Rock,” as I have nicknamed the female Pied-billed Grebe who has been patiently sitting on her nest in Southwest Pond since early April (!!!), has brought forth babies. I saw two under her this week. Normally, Pied-billed Grebes take only about three weeks to incubate their eggs, with the mom and dad switching places and covering up the nest with rotting vegetation when they both need a break. But this pair took three months. I suspect the female kept laying nonviable eggs, or perhaps a raccoon snuck in there and put in a couple of whitish rocks as a joke. (Raccoons are known for their jolly sense of humor, as anyone who has confronted one of their spilled-garbage pranks in the early morning when you’re late for work will attest.) Now that the babies have hatched, we can expect to see them riding on their mother’s back as she takes them around the pond for an outing.
Look for the babies’ zebra-striped heads peeking out of their mom’s warm feathers. You should also listen for the kids’ little peeps when they get hungry and beg for food. The parents will be frantically catching fish to stuff into the babies’ beaks for the next several weeks. No more time to sit there and brood, letting the days drift by. As tempting as it is to just incubate, life demands more from us than that.