I hadn't really noticed before, but Horned Grebes display no difference between sexes. The females, often wearing muted colors in other species, are, in this family of birds, just as colorful as the males. Horned Grebes in breeding plumage look very similar to Eared Grebes, but the rusty color on the throat distinguishes this species from it's darker cousin, which has a black neck. It also lacks the puffy crown of the Eared Grebe.
When you consider that the main instrument birds have for preening themselves is the tip of their bill, it is understandable why they spend so much time with this one activity. It is amazing that such a white bird can remain so clean in an environment largely made up of mud.
As I have said before, in a studio setting, lights can be arranged in any way the photographer desires. This is not equally true in the field, but I am always looking for a good mix of light and shadow. In this image, I noticed the way the sun was raking across the feathers on the wing. I knew the bird could move very little and the effect would disappear.
I have always turned my attention to Snowy Egrets later in the season after their nesting activity is over. So, I am not at all sure where the local rookeries are located for these birds. Neither have I seen any courting rituals, so I am looking forward to following them over the next few weeks.
It is extremely easy to blow out the detail on a pure white bird. It is a constant struggle to do that while capturing enough light to also illuminate the surroundings adequately. A darker environment does make them jump off the page though.