“Show me the grebe.”

I woke up thinking: I’m going  to see a Pied-billed Grebe. I went to the pond near here and said: “Show me the grebe.”

Before we go on, let me point out that nobody in my old neighborhood has ever said, “Show me the grebe.”

Or in my current neighborhood, I guess. I had the thought that I was the only guy on the planet thinking those fairly absurd words.

Screw it. I was thinking them. And I had a gut feel.

Gamblers know that feel. In the 1974 film, “The Gambler,” a troubled guy at the blackjack table bets his whole life on the fall of a card.

Everything is hanging on his drawing a three. The actor (James Caan) is filmed from below. Behind him we see the Vegas casino’s ornate ceiling with a round, gold design. It glows over the guy’s head, his halo.

The dealer tries to talk him out of calling for a hit while holding eighteen. The guy quietly says, “Show me the three.”

With that halo going for him, we knew what we were going to see. The dealer slides a three out of the deck.

There I am, at the side of this little green pond, with the gambler’s gut feel that there’s a Pied-billed Grebe there on this day.

I say silently, at least I hope it was silently, “Show me the grebe.”

Pied-billed Grebes are diving birds. It’s possible that one could have been under the surface. Possible that one could’ve popped up on cue.

Like that three.

Did it happen? C’mon, we’re not in a movie. And if we were, it wouldn’t be about grebes. Still, it was a nice moment, there by the water.

"C'mon. We're not in a movie..."

4 Responses to ““Show me the grebe.””

  1. M.D. says:

    I read Show Me the Grebe this morning. That gambler in the movie is driven by …the self-delusion that he’s clairvoyant. The last scene in which Caan is slashed confirms suicidal impulses. Straight out of Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler. Gut feel is better when it’s about…grebes.

  2. Two-Fisted Bird Watcher says:

    The terrific phrase, “mother lode of grebes” belongs up there in the same goofy category as “show me the grebe.” Thanks, Ann.

  3. Cal R. says:


  4. At Smith & Bybee Lake in Portland one spring day, I stumbled on the mother lode of pied billed grebes. The water was thick with moms and babies. I didn’t know they bred locally, much less in groups and in abundance. Your blog reminded me. Thanks!