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Efforts Underway to Protect and Restore Grebes Nesting Areas

Updated: Apr 21

Moses Lake and the Columbia Basin, furnish critical nesting habitats for both Western and Clark's Grebes. Grebes are known for their elaborate courtship displays, including their rushing ceremony where two birds appear to "skate" across the water side by side with heads held high. They feed on a diet of fish, crustaceans, worms, and insects.

Unfortunately, both species have experienced declines in numbers. In the late 1960s, Moses Lake had a nesting colony of several hundred pairs. This colony was abandoned in the 1980s. In 2023 Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists completed 123 visits to 110 sites to identify grebe nesting sites throughout the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project. They only found two areas where grebes were successfully nesting: the Banks Lake and the area of Moses Lake north of the Alder Street Fill.

These areas are ideal because they are shielded from boat wakes and other human disturbances, which have been identified as causes of poor nesting success. Because nesting grebes need an abundance of plant material to build their nests, biologists suggest that these areas not be treated for weed removal. If you notice more plants growing in these areas, do not be alarmed as they will become grebes' nesting habitat.

Grebes nesting in Moses Lake. Photo credit: Rebecca Sawyer

For more information contact Ronnie Sawyer, CBCD’s Moses Lake Water Quality Program Manager at

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