The Least Grebe is the smallest of the North American grebes and has wide distribution throughout much of South and Central America, with small populations occurring in South Texas. Prior studies have demonstrated diet and foraging behaviors of Least Grebes, however many aspects of cooperative foraging, including parental care, remain unknown.
The East Foundation supports wildlife conservation and other public benefits of ranching and private lands stewardship. Here we report Least Grebe cooperative foraging behaviors from cattle ponds on the San Antonio Viejo Ranch during 2014.
Least Grebe foraging behavior appears to be heavily influenced by predator vigilance and avoidance. Even minimal vegetation or overhanging cover provides suitable habitat in cattle ponds with stable food sources. Also, the size of cattle ponds can be quite small.
Given the lack of natural surface water in the South Texas Sand Sheet, artificial cattle ponds provide key habitat for waterbirds, such as the Least Grebe, and other wildlife – again, ranching and wildlife go together.
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