While I did not get a chance to see this bird, I am glad that at least
three pictures have been published on the Web.  Since I saw the first
picture I have been puzzled by the bird since it shows several characters
that I thought to not by typical for a Western Grebe.  Specifically, the
characters are the rather bright yellow coloration of much of the bill, the
well-defined white lore stripe, and the amount of light feathers on the
right flank (none of the pictures show the left flank).  I did several
searches of the Web for pictures of both Western and Clark's grebes.  These
searches yielded more than twenty photographs.  None of them closely
matched the appearance of the Sanibel Island grebe.

Still puzzled, I invited the readers of the ID-Frontiers mail list to view
the pictures.  I received nine responses, all from observers from within
the normal range of Western/Clark's.  The "box-score" from these responses
was: Western -1, intermediate/hybrid - 7, dimpled-chad (uncertain) -
1.  One respondent went so far as to examine more than 60 specimens at the
Field Museum in Chicago.  This review lead him to change his opinion from
Western to intermediate/hybrid.

In summary, I think there is considerable doubt as to whether the Sanibel
Grebe  can be identified with certainty as a pure Western Grebe.

The pictures can be viewed at:


Noel Wamer
Jacksonville, FL, US
[log in to unmask]
"Even in its most primitive form, naming is a kind of judgment."
                                                        (Walker Percy)