Great crested grebe

The great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) is a member of the grebe family of water birds noted for its elaborate mating display. Its scientific name comes from Latin: the genus name Podiceps is from podicis, "vent" and pes, "foot", and is a reference to the placement of a grebe's legs towards the rear of its body; the species name, cristatus, means "crested".[2]

Call of a Great Crested Grebe recorded in Surrey


The great crested grebe is the largest member of the grebe family found in the Old World, with some larger species residing in the Americas. They measure 46–51 cm (18–20 in) long with a 59–73 cm (23–29 in) wingspan and weigh 0.9 to 1.5 kg (2.0 to 3.3 lb).[3][4] It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. The adults are unmistakable in summer with head and neck decorations. In winter, this is whiter than most grebes, with white above the eye, and a pink bill.

The young are distinctive because their heads are striped black and white. They lose these markings when they become adults.


Podiceps cristatus MWNH 0106
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany

The great crested grebe breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes. The subspecies P. c. cristatus is found across Europe and Asia. It is resident in the milder west of its range, but migrates from the colder regions. It winters on freshwater lakes and reservoirs or the coast. The African subspecies P. c. infuscatus and the Australasian subspecies P. c. australis are mainly sedentary.


The great crested grebe has an elaborate mating display. Like all grebes, it nests on the water's edge, since its legs are set relatively far back and it is thus unable to walk very well. Usually two eggs are laid, and the fluffy, striped young grebes are often carried on the adult's back. In a clutch of two or more hatchlings, male and female grebes will each identify their 'favourites', which they alone will care for and teach.

Unusually, young grebes are capable of swimming and diving almost at hatching. The adults teach these skills to their young by carrying them on their back and diving, leaving the chicks to float on the surface; they then re-emerge a few feet away so that the chicks may swim back onto them.

The great crested grebe feeds mainly on fish, but also small crustaceans, insects small frogs and newts.

This species was hunted almost to extinction in the United Kingdom in the 19th century for its head plumes, which were used to decorate hats and ladies' undergarments. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was set up to help protect this species, which is again a common sight.

The great crested grebe and its behaviour was the subject of one of the landmark publications in avian ethology: Julian Huxley's 1914 paper on The Courtship‐habits of the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus).[5][6]


Great-crested Grebe Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve West Sikkim India 24.04.2016

A flock at high altitude marsh at 5,600 ft: Khecheopalri Lake in Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, West Sikkim in India

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) (14)

Juvenile with adult

Podiceps cristatus juv

Head of juvenile with characteristic stripes

Podiceps cristatus -Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow, Scotland -adult feeding chick-8 (2)

Adult ready to feed its young in Scotland

Great crested grebes (podiceps cristatus)

Mating ritual, Otmoor, Oxfordshire

Great crested grebe (podiceps cristatus)

Male displaying during mating ritual, Otmoor, Oxfordshire

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus courtship display by Raju Kasambe 21

Great Crested Grebe courtship display at Hyde Park, London, UK

Podiceps cristatus 1 2013

Podiceps cristatus with nest and eggs, Sweden 2013

Podiceps cristatus 2 2013

Podiceps cristatus family at nest, Sweden 2013

Podiceps Cristatus 2015-5786

Podiceps Cristatus Sweden 2015

Podiceps Cristatus 2015-5791

Podiceps Cristatus Sweden 2015

Podiceps Cristatus 2015-6085

Podiceps Cristatus Sweden 2015

Podiceps Cristatus 2015-6086

Podiceps Cristatus Sweden 2015

Podiceps cristatus MHNT.ZOO.2010.11.38.1

Museum specimen


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Podiceps cristatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 122, 341. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ "Great crested grebe videos, photos and facts – Podiceps cristatus". ARKive. Archived from the original on 2012-08-23. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  4. ^ Burnie, D.; Wilson, D.E., eds. (2005). Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. DK Adult. ISBN 0789477645.
  5. ^ Burkhardt Jr, R.W. (1992). Huxley and the rise of ethology. Julian Huxley. Biologist and statesman of science. Houston, Texas: Rice University Press. pp. 127–149.
  6. ^ Huxley, J.S. (September 1914). "33 The Courtship‐habits* of the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus); with an addition to the Theory of Sexual Selection". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 84 (3): 491–562. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1914.tb07052.x.

External links

Alderfen Broad

Alderfen Broad is a 21.3-hectare (53-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north-east of Norwich in Norfolk. It is managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. It is part of the Broadland Ramsar site and Special Protection Area and The Broads Special Area of Conservation,This area of fenland peat has open water, carr woodland and reedswamp. Breeding birds include the great crested grebe, water rail, grasshopper warbler and reed warbler.The site is open to the public.

Blelham Tarn

Blelham Tarn is a large valley tarn in the Lake District to the north of the hill Latterbarrow. The settlements of Outgate, Low Wray and High Wray are close by. The tarn is drained to the northeast by the short Blelham Beck into Windermere. This beck was previously straightened and lowered.

Fish species in the tarn include brown trout, eel, perch, pike and roach, much of the tarn shore is reedbed and waterfowl present can include great crested grebe, whooper swan and golden-eye.The tarn is regularly monitored by the United Kingdom Lake Ecological Observatory Network and is characterised as eutrophic and monomictic and has suffered from agricultural water pollution with large quantities of blue-green algae in the summer. The lake temperature at various depths varied over the period July 2012 to November 2014 between 2 and 25 Celsius as the air temperature (3 m above the surface) varied between -3 and 22 Celsius. Over the same period the pH varied from 6.4 to 9.8 and the

dissolved oxygen ranged from 7 to 14 mg/lBlelham Tarn and Bog, with a total area of 49 hectares, is designated a site of special scientific interest and Blelham Bog is designated a National Nature Reserve The bog contains various species of sphagnum moss, bog myrtle, cotton-grass and the white-beaked sedge; and rare caddis-flies and vertigo lilljeborgi.

Cop Mere

Cop Mere is one of the largest natural bodies of water in Staffordshire, England. It has been designated a SSSI as an oligotrophic mire rich in Sphagnum moss, and other plant and animal life are present in sufficient numbers and rarities for it to have been designated as a protected area since 1968.

Cop Mere was created as a hollow in the Keuper marl of North Staffordshire/South Cheshire (which was laid down approx 200 million years ago, roughly) as a result of the retreat of the last ice age. It differs from other ponds and meres in the region because it sits on the route of the River Sow, the flow of which encourages the growth of algae necessary for the growth of freshwater mosses. The River Sow has been dammed upstream at Jackson's coppice from around AD 1250, which altered the flow of water and created a unique albeit man-made environment that encourages birdlife and fishlife. There is evidence that fishing in Cop Mere dates back at least to the reign of Henry VIII.The SSSI also includes a number of plants currently rare in Staffordshire, specifically herb paris (Paris quadrifolia) and the thin-spiked wood sedge, Carex strigosa. Birds commonly found on the mere include the reed warbler and sedge warbler, the great crested grebe and the little grebe, the sparrowhawk, and various woodpeckers.

Cotswold Water Park

The Cotswold Water Park is the United Kingdom's largest marl lake system, straddling the Wiltshire–Gloucestershire border, northwest of Cricklade and south of Cirencester. The lakes were created in the second half of the 20th century by extraction of glacial Jurassic limestone gravel, which had eroded from the Cotswold Hills, and these filled naturally after working began to cease in the early 1970s.It is not a water fun park, as the name might suggest. It is a significant area for wildlife and particularly for wintering and breeding birds. The local Wildlife Trusts (Gloucestershire and Wiltshire) are involved in partnership with the Cotswold Water Park Trust in working with local communities and organisations in the area. The Cotswold Water Park Trust is an environmental charity working to improve all 40 square miles of the Cotswold Water Park for people and wildlife. The lake area is very varied and encompasses a wide variety of recreational activities including sailing and fishing.

There are 147 numbered lakes. The area is a mix of nature conservation activities (including nature reserves), recreation, rural villages and holiday accommodation. The site (Fairford Region; South Cerney Region; Coke's Pit Lake; Edward Richardson and Phyllis Amey reserve; Bryworth Lane reserve) was listed in the Cotswold District Local Plan 2001–2011 as a Key Wildlife Site (KWS).

Dengie nature reserve

Dengie nature reserve is a 3,105 hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest between the estuaries of the Blackwater and Crouch near Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. It is also a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area, a Nature Conservation Review site, a Geological Conservation Review site and a Ramsar site. It is part of the Essex estuaries Special Area of Conservation. An area of 12 hectares is the Bradwell Shell Bank nature reserve, which is managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.It consists of large, remote area of tidal mud-flats and salt marshes at the eastern end of the Dengie peninsula . The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall overlooks some of the site.

It is a wetland of international importance and provides habitats for:

Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

knot (Calidris canutus)

Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica)

Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Didlington Park Lakes

Didlington Park Lakes is a 26.1-hectare (64-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest south of Didlington in Norfolk.These three artificial lakes probably date to the early nineteenth century. They are an important breeding site for wildfowl, including gadwal, teal, mallard, shoveler, tufted duck and great crested grebe.The site is private land with no public access.

Dillington Carr

Dillington Carr is a 55-hectare (140-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north of Dereham in Norfolk.This valley in a tributary of the River Wensum has extensive irrigation reservoirs and areas of carr woodland. An outstanding variety of birds breed on the site, including gadwalls, great crested grebe and tufted ducks on the reservoirs and barn owls, lesser spotted woodpeckers and willow tit in the woodland.The site is private land with no public access.

Duddingston Loch

Duddingston Loch is a loch located in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Scotland, below Arthur's Seat. It is part of a nature reserve, being important for wildfowl, herons and the great crested grebe, as well as swans and ducks. It is the only natural loch in Edinburgh, and the largest in Holyrood Park.

Henry Raeburn's famous painting The Skating Minister is set on Duddingston Loch. The loch used to be a popular venue for skaters, with the Edinburgh Skating Club meeting there, but is now rarely sufficiently iced.There are carp in the loch, allegedly reaching up to 20 pounds (9.1 kg) in size, as well as populations of roach, perch and pike.In 1778, a hoard of fifty-three Late Bronze Age weapons was dredged from the loch; it is now held by the National Museum of Scotland.

Frampton Pools

Frampton Pools (grid reference SO753073) is a 59.84-hectare (147.9-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Gloucestershire, notified in 1974.The site is in the Severn Vale and consists of a number of lakes created as a result of gravel extraction. These provide a good open water habitat which is important for wintering wildfowl. The site is mostly standing water which is surrounded by broadleaved woodland, scrub and the margins support marginal vegetation.

Ganga Lake (Mongolia)

Ganga Lake (Mongolian: Ганга нуур) is a saltwater lake located in Dariganga sum, Sükhbaatar Province, Mongolia. The lake lies on the transition zone between the southern steppes and the Gobi desert, giving it a unique landscape of lakes, steppes, and sand dunes. The lake and its wetlands (of which the total area is 32.8 km²) is an important breeding and resting area for endangered migratory birds, including the great crested grebe, the whooper swan, and the ruddy shelduck.

Due to ongoing climate change, the lake area is shrinking.Neighboring lakes include Duut Lake, Sumtiin Lake, Erdene Lake, Kholboo Lake, Züün Kholboo Lake, Tsagaan Lake, Khoshmogt Lake, Red Lake (dried up), and Zegst Lake.

The lake and its surrounding wetlands was designated a Ramsar site in 2004.

Gmina Staroźreby

Gmina Staroźreby is a rural gmina (administrative district) in Płock County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. Its seat is the village of Staroźreby, which lies approximately 22 kilometres (14 mi) north-east of Płock and 84 km (52 mi) north-west of Warsaw.

Areas of the administrative district are situated on the area of Masovia-Podlaskie land in the river basin of Wkra and the Vistula rivers. In the landscape flatlands are dominating and lightly wavy. They are reweighing pine, alder and birchen forests. In the local river basin Płonka a natural-landscape fall-rope is found, on the land which is building one's nests great crested grebe protected.

The gmina covers an area of 137.55 square kilometres (53.1 sq mi), and as of 2006 its total population is 7,576.


A grebe () is a member of the order Podicipediformes and the only type of bird associated with this order.Grebes are a widely distributed order of freshwater diving birds, some of which visit the sea when migrating and in winter. This order contains only a single family, the Podicipedidae, containing 22 species in six extant genera.

Lake Clearwater

Lake Clearwater is in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand and is subjected to the strong prevailing northwesterly winds. The outlet feeds into the south branch of the Ashburton River / Hakatere. Located in the upper reaches of the Rangitata River a small village of holiday homes, also called Lake Clearwater, is located between Lake Clearwater and the smaller neighbour Lake Camp. The lake borders, and is proposed to be included in, the Hakatere Conservation Park which covers nearly 60,000 hectares of rugged mountain country, tussocklands, beech forest and sparkling clear rivers and lakes between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers. The lake has a submerged plant indicator rating of 48 (moderate). The Canterbury University Tramping Club selected this location for their annual T'WALK event on 17 May 2014.

Road access to Lake Clearwater is approximately 38 km past Mount Somers and the last half is an unsealed gravel road. No dogs or motor powered craft are permitted on the lake as it is a wildlife reserve, however strong and consistent winds funnelled off the bounding mountains make it an ideal lake for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The adjacent, and smaller, Lake Camp is used by motor powered water craft.

Northeim Lake District

Northeim Lake District is a series of lakes near Northeim, Lower Saxony.

It has its origin in gravel extraction by open-pit mining. Digging for gravel began in 1852 in order to build the Royal Hanoverian State Railways. After World War II mining was intensified. Gravel that is found there is composed of greywacke, radiolarite and sand.

It is located where the Rhume river flows into the Leine river. Highway 3 crosses the Federal Motorway 7 there as well. The site is also crossed by the Leine-Heide Cycle Path.

It is now a recreation area. Persons can use the lakes for swimming, diving or windsurfing. It is also a good site for persons with sailboats.

The area is also a conservation area in order to protect the birds that breed there like the great crested grebe, water rail, yellow wagtail or the Eurasian reed warbler.


Telmatornis is a valid prehistoric bird genus of unclear affiliations. It apparently lived in the Late Cretaceous; its remains were found in the early Maastrichtian (c.71-68 million years ago) Navesink Formation of New Jersey. A single species is included today, Telmatornis priscus. It was for some time united with other taxa of aquatic birds from around the Cretaceous-Paleocene boundary in the form taxon "Graculavidae", the supposed "transitional shorebirds", but this group is now known to be artificial.

Some sources erroneously claim it was allied with ducks and geese. The reason for this is that the early anseriform Anatalavis rex was for some time included in Telmatornis. Hope (2002), however, noted that Telmatornis shares many characters with members of Charadriiformes, the ancient and diverse group of modern birds that includes for example gulls, auks and waders.A cladistic analysis of the forelimb skeleton (Varricchio 2002) found it highly similar to the great crested grebe and unlike the painted buttonquail (now known to be a basal charadriiform lineage), the black-necked stilt (a more advanced charadriiform), or the limpkin (a member of the Grui suborder of Gruiformes), namely in that its dorsal condyle of the humerus was not angled at 20°–30° away from long axis of the humerus. The analysis did not result in a phylogenetic pattern but rather grouped some birds with similar wing shapes together while others stood separate. It is thus unknown whether this apparent similarity to grebes represents an evolutionary relationship, or whether Telmatornis simply had a wing convergent on that of grebes and moved it like they do.

Tophill Low

Tophill Low is a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The site is also an active water treatment works, operated by Yorkshire Water. It lies adjacent to the River Hull approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) south west of Driffield, and 3 miles (4.8 km) east of the village of Watton. The site, which was designated a SSSI in 1989, consists of two artificial reservoirs. The nature reserve extends further to a total area of 300 acres (120 hectares).It is important as one of few inland standing open water bodies suitable for wintering wildfowl in North Humberside. The reservoirs support nationally important numbers of gadwall, shoveler, and tufted duck. Also present are locally important numbers of goldeneye, great crested grebe, mallard, pochard, teal, and wigeon. The wider nature reserve comprises a variety of habitats with grassland, marshes, ponds, and woods supporting over 160 bird species across the year.

WWT London Wetland Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the Barnes area of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, southwest London, England, by Barn Elms. The site is formed of four disused Victorian reservoirs tucked into a loop in the Thames.

The centre first opened in 2000, and in 2002 an area of 29.9 hectares was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest as the Barn Elms Wetland Centre.The centre occupies more than 100 acres (40 hectares) of land which was formerly occupied by several small reservoirs. These were converted into a wide range of wetland features and habitats before the centre opened in May 2000. It was the first urban project of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Many wild birds which have now made their home in the Centre cannot be found anywhere else in London, and there are nationally significant numbers of gadwall and northern shoveler. Other wild birds include Eurasian bittern, northern pintail, northern lapwing, water rail, ring-necked parakeet, Eurasian sparrowhawk, sand martin, common kingfisher, little grebe and great crested grebe. The centre also holds a collection of captive wildfowl.

It is host to regular lectures and events concerned with preserving Britain's wetland animals and was featured on the BBC television programme Seven Natural Wonders in 2005 as one of the wonders of the London area, with a focus on the region's parakeets, in an episode presented by Bill Oddie. The site contains a large visitors' building which is occasionally used as a wedding venue.

In 2012 London Wetland Centre was voted Britain's Favourite Nature Reserve in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.

Weir Wood Reservoir

Weir Wood Reservoir is a 153.5-hectare (379-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest west of Forest Row in East Sussex. It is in High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an area of 32.6 hectares (81 acres) is a Local Nature Reserve which is owned by Southern Water and managed by East Sussex County Council and Southern Water.This is one of the largest bodies of open water in the county and it has rich and diverse communities of breeding, wintering and passage birds. Breeding birds include great crested grebe, teal, mute swan, tufted duck, little grebe, reed warbler, sedge warbler, coot and moorhen.

Wraysbury Reservoir

Wraysbury Reservoir is a water supply reservoir for London, just west of the M25 near the village of Wraysbury, and directly under the western approach path of London Heathrow airport. The reservoir was begun in 1967 and completed by W. & C. French in 1970 with a capacity of 34,000 million litres.The reservoir is owned and operated by Thames Water; 400 million litres of water are pumped daily from an inlet at Datchet on the River Thames. A neighbouring reservoir is the King George VI Reservoir, opened in 1947, which is supplied from Hythe End. To keep the grass short and make inspections easier, Thames Water maintains a flock of sheep on the earthen banks.It is a 205.6-hectare (508-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and part of South West London Waterbodies Ramsar site and Special Protection Area. It has nationally important numbers of wintering cormorants, great crested grebe and shovelers. It also supports many gadwalls.

Grebes (order: Podicipediformes · family: Podicipedidae)
Birds (class: Aves)
Fossil birds
Human interaction

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.