The Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi) performs an elaborate dance with its mate. It’s a rarely seen courtship ritual that was captured by Michael and Paula Webster during a six-month film shoot in Patagonia. The clip above is from their documentary Tango in the Wind, a film about the conservation efforts being made to protect these critically endangered birds. From Audobon.org:
In case you missed it: The dance of the Clark’s Grebes. Plus: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s Birds of Paradise project, male Blue Manakins waiting in line, and the Greater Sage-Grouse’s courtship ritual.
As a family, grebes are known for their showy moves. Great Crested Grebes perform similar courtship dances in their Eurasian breeding grounds, and here in North America, Western Grebes and Clark’s Grebes get so caught up in romance that they run on water. But the Hooded Grebe’s courtship hasn’t been nearly as well documented, thanks to its limited range in the harsh and isolated barrens of Patagonia, near the tip of South America. In fact, the species wasn’t even known to science until 1974…
The Hooded Grebe’s courtship dance may look funny, but with fewer than 500 breeding pairs remaining, this is serious business. Its numbers have declined by about 80 percent in the past 25 years, largely due to the introduction of the non-native American mink and rainbow trout, according to BirdLife International. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature labeled the species critically endangered in 2016.