A grebe (/ɡriːb/) is a member of the order Podicipediformes and the only type of bird associated with this order.[1]

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.

Temporal range: Oligocene-Holocene, 25–0 Ma
Podiceps nigricollis 001
Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis nigricollis), in non-breeding plumage
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Aequorlitornithes
Clade: Mirandornithes
Order: Podicipediformes
Fürbringer, 1888
Family: Podicipedidae
Bonaparte, 1831


Diving grebe
Diving grebe

Grebes are small to medium-large in size, have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. Although they can run for a short distance, they are prone to falling over, since they have their feet placed far back on the body.

Grebes have narrow wings, and some species are reluctant to fly; indeed, two South American species are completely flightless.[2] They respond to danger by diving rather than flying, and are in any case much less wary than ducks. Extant species range in size from the least grebe, at 120 grams (4.3 oz) and 23.5 cm (9.3 inches), to the great grebe, at 1.7 kg (3.8 lbs) and 71 cm (28 inches).

The North American and Eurasian species are all, of necessity, migratory over much or all of their ranges, and those species that winter at sea are also seen regularly in flight. Even the small freshwater pied-billed grebe of North America has occurred as a transatlantic vagrant to Europe on more than 30 occasions.

Bills vary from short and thick to long and pointed, depending on the diet, which ranges from fish to freshwater insects and crustaceans. The feet are always large, with broad lobes on the toes and small webs connecting the front three toes. The hind toe also has a small lobe. Recent experimental work has shown that these lobes work like the hydrofoil blades of a propeller.[2] Curiously, the same mechanism apparently evolved independently in the extinct Cretaceous-age Hesperornithiformes, which are totally unrelated birds.

Grebes have unusual plumage. It is dense and waterproof, and on the underside the feathers are at right-angles to the skin, sticking straight out to begin with and curling at the tip. By pressing their feathers against the body, grebes can adjust their buoyancy. Often, they swim low in the water with just the head and neck exposed. They swim by simultaneously spreading out the feet and bring them inward with the webbing expanded to produce the forward thrust in much the same way as frogs.[3]

In the non-breeding season, grebes are plain-coloured in dark browns and whites. However, most have ornate and distinctive breeding plumages, often developing chestnut markings on the head area, and perform elaborate display rituals.[2] The young, particularly those of the genus Podiceps, are often striped and retain some of their juvenile plumage even after reaching full size. In the breeding season, they mate at freshwater lakes and ponds, but some species spend their non-breeding season along seacoasts.[1]

When preening, grebes eat their own feathers, and feed them to their young. The function of this behaviour is uncertain but it is believed to assist with pellet formation,[4] and to reduce their vulnerability to gastric parasites.

Grebes make floating nests of plant material concealed among reeds on the surface of the water. The young are precocial, and able to swim from birth.[2]

Taxonomy, systematics and evolution

The grebes are a radically distinct group of birds as regards their anatomy. Accordingly, they were at first believed to be related to the loons, which are also foot-propelled diving birds, and both families were once classified together under the order Colymbiformes. However, as recently as the 1930s, this was determined to be an example of convergent evolution by the strong selective forces encountered by unrelated birds sharing the same lifestyle at different times and in different habitat.[5] Grebes and loons are now separately classified orders of Podicipediformes and Gaviiformes, respectively.

The cladistics vs. phenetics debate of the mid-20th century revived scientific interest in generalizing comparisons. As a consequence, the discredited grebe-loon link was discussed again. This even went as far as proposing monophyly for grebes, loons, and the toothed Hesperornithiformes.[6] In retrospect, the scientific value of the debate lies more in providing examples that a cladistic methodology is not incompatible with an overall phenetical scientific doctrine, and that thus, simply because some study "uses cladistics", it does not guarantee superior results.

Molecular studies such as DNA-DNA hybridization (Sibley & Ahlquist, 1990) and sequence analyses fail to resolve the relationships of grebes properly due to insufficient resolution in the former and long-branch attraction in the latter. Still – actually because of this – they do confirm that these birds form a fairly ancient evolutionary lineage (or possibly one that was subject to selective pressures down to the molecular level even), and they support the non-relatedness of loons and grebes.

The most comprehensive study of bird phylogenomics,[7] published in 2014, found that grebes and flamingos are members of Columbea, a clade that also includes doves, sandgrouse, and mesites.[8]

Relationship with flamingos

Phoenicopteridae face
Many molecular and morphological studies support a relationship between grebes and flamingos.

Recent molecular studies have suggested a relation with flamingos[9][10][11] while morphological evidence also strongly supports a relationship between flamingos and grebes. They hold at least eleven morphological traits in common, which are not found in other birds. Many of these characteristics have been previously identified in flamingos, but not in grebes.[12] The fossil Palaelodids can be considered evolutionarily, and ecologically, intermediate between flamingos and grebes.[13]

For the grebe-flamingo clade, the taxon Mirandornithes ("miraculous birds" due to their extreme divergence and apomorphies) has been proposed. Alternatively, they could be placed in one order, with Phoenocopteriformes taking priority.[13]

Fossil grebes

Juncitarsus merkeli
Juncitarsus merkeli fossil

The fossil record of grebes is incomplete; there are no transitional forms between more conventional birds and the highly derived grebes known from fossils, or at least none that can be placed in the relationships of the group with any certainty. The enigmatic waterbird genus Juncitarsus, however, may be close to a common ancestor of flamingos and grebes.

The Early Cretaceous (Berriasian, around 143 mya) genus Eurolimnornis from NW Romania was initially believed to be a grebe. If it is indeed related to this lineage, it must represent a most basal form, as it almost certainly predates any grebe-flamingo split. On the other hand, the single bone fragment assigned to this taxon is not very diagnostic and may not be of a bird at all.[14]

Telmatornis from the Navesink Formation – also Late Cretaceous – is traditionally allied with the Charadriiformes and/or Gruiformes.[15][16][17][18][19] However, a cladistic analysis of the forelimb skeleton 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 similar to that of grebes and moved it like they do.[20]

True grebes suddenly appear in the fossil record in the Late Oligocene or Early Miocene, around 23–25 mya. While there are a few prehistoric genera that are now completely extinct; Thiornis (Late Miocene -? Early Pliocene of Libros, Spain)[21][22] and Pliolymbus (Late Pliocene of WC USA – Early? Pleistocene of Chapala, Mexico)[23][24] date from a time when most if not all extant genera were already present.[21] Because grebes are evolutionarily isolated and they only started to appear in the Northern Hemisphere fossil record in the Early Miocene, they are likely to have originated in the Southern Hemisphere.[25]

A few more recent grebe fossils could not be assigned to modern or prehistoric genera:

  • Podicipedidae gen. et sp. indet. (San Diego Late Pliocene of California) – formerly included in Podiceps parvus[23]
  • Podicipedidae gen. et sp. indet. UMMP 49592, 52261, 51848, 52276, KUVP 4484 (Late Pliocene of WC USA)[26]
  • Podicipedidae gen. et sp. indet. (Glenns Ferry Late Pliocene/Early Pleistocene of Idaho, USA)[26][27]

Grebes date back very far and the Late Cretaceous bird Neogaeornis wetzeli may be their ancestor.[28]


Living Podicipediformes based on the work by John Boyd.[29]









Compiled from the following websites: Extinct species assignment follows the Mikko's Phylogeny Archive[30] and websites.[31] and subspecies names from English Names of Birds.[32]

  • Genus †Miobaptus Švec 1982
    • M. huzhiricus Zelenkov 2015
    • M. walteri Švec 1982 [Podiceps walteri (Švec 1984) Mlíkovský 2000]
  • Genus †Miodytes Dimitreijevich, Gál & Kessler 2002
    • Miodytes serbicus Dimitreijevich, Gál & Kessler 2002
  • Genus †Pliolymbus Murray 1967 [Piliolymbus (sic)]
    • Pliolymbus baryosteus Murray 1967
  • Genus †Thiornis Navás 1922
    • Thiornis sociata Navás 1922 [Podiceps sociatus (Navás 1922) Olson 1995]
  • Genus Podilymbus Lesson 1831
    • P. mujusculus Murray 1967
    • P. wetmorei Storer 1976
    • Atitlán grebe, Podilymbus gigas Griscom 1929 (extinct 1989)
    • Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps (Linnaeus 1758)
      • P. p. magnus
      • P. p. antillarum Bangs 1913 (Antillean pied-billed grebe)
      • P. p. podiceps (Linnaeus 1758) (northern pied-billed grebe)
      • P. p. antarcticus (Lesson 1842) (southern pied-billed grebe)
  • Genus Tachybaptus Reichenbach 1853 [Poliocephalus (Tachybaptus) Reichenbach 1853; Sylbeocyclus Macgillivray 1842 non Bonaparte 1831; Limnodytes Oberholser 1974]
    • Little grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas 1764)
      • T. r. ruficollis (Pallas 1764) (European little grebe)
      • T. r. albescens (Blanford 1877) (Indian little grebe)
      • T. r. iraquensis (Ticehurst 1923) (Iraq little grebe)
      • T. r. capensis (Salvadori 1884) (African little grebe)
      • T. r. poggei (Reichenow 1902)
      • T. r. philippensis (Bonnaterre 1790) (Philippine little grebe)
      • T. r. cotabato (Rand 1948) (Mindanao little grebe)
    • Tricolored grebe, Tachybaptus tricolor (Gray 1861)
      • T. t. vulcanorum (Rensch 1929)
      • T. t. tricolor (Gray 1861)
      • T. t. collaris (Mayr 1945)
    • Australasian grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae (Stephens 1826)
      • T. n. javanicus (Mayr 1943)
      • T. n. fumosus (Mayr 1943)
      • T. n. incola (Mayr 1943)
      • T. n. novaehollandiae (Stephens 1826) (Australian little grebe)
      • T. n. leucosternos (Mayr 1931)
      • T. n. rennellianus (Mayr 1943)
    • Madagascar grebe, Tachybaptus pelzelnii (Hartlaub 1861)
    • Alaotra grebe, Tachybaptus rufolavatus (Delacour 1932) (extinct 2010)
    • Least grebe, Tachybaptus dominicus (Linnaeus 1766)
      • T. d. brachypterus (Chapman 1899) (Mexican least grebe)
      • T. d. bangsi (van Rossem & Hachisuka 1937)] (Bangs' grebe)
      • T. d. dominicus (Linnaeus 1766) (West Indian grebe)
      • T. d. brachyrhynchus (Chapman 1899) (short-billed grebe)
      • T. d. eisenmanni Storer & Getty 1985
  • Genus Poliocephalus Selby 1840 (Hoary-headed Grebe)
  • Genus Aechmophorus Coues 1862)
    • A. elasson Murray 1967
    • Western grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis (Lawrence 1858)
      • A. o. ephemeralis Dickerman 1986
      • A. o. occidentalis (Lawrence 1858)
    • Clark's grebe, Aechmophorus clarkii (Lawrence 1858)
      • A. c. clarkii (Lawrence 1858)
      • A. c. transitionalis Dickerman 1986
  • Genus Podicephorus Bochenski 1994
    • Great grebe, Podicephorus major (Boddaert 1783) Bochenski 1994
      • P. m. major (Boddaert 1783)
      • P. m. navasi Manghi 1984
  • Genus Podiceps Latham 1787 [Pliodytes Brodkorb 1953; Dyas; Lophaithyia Kaup 1829; Colymbus Linnaeus 1758 non Linnaeus 1766 non Paetel 1875 non Hadding 1913; Podiceps (Proctopus) Kaup.; Centropelma Sclater & Salvin 1869; Dytes Kaup.; Rollandia Bonaparte, 1856]
    • P. oligocaenus (Shufeldt 1915)
    • P. arndti Chandler 1990
    • P. caspicus (Habizl 1783) [Colymbus caspicus Habizl 1783]
    • P. csarnotatus Kessler 2009
    • P. discors Murray 1967
    • P. dixi Brodkorp 1963
    • P. miocenicus Kessler 1984
    • P. oligocaenus (Shufeldt)
    • P. parvus (Shufeldt 1913)) [Colymbus parvus Schufeldt 1913]
    • P. solidus Kuročkin 1985
    • P. subparvus (Miller & Bowman 1958) [Colymbus subparvus Miller & Bowman 1958]
    • White-tufted grebe, Podiceps rolland Quoy & Gaimard 1824
      • P. r. rolland Quoy & Gaimard 1824 (Falkland white-tufted Grebe)
      • P. r. chilensis Lesson 1828 (Chilean white-tufted Grebe)
      • P. r. morrisoni Simmons 1962 (Junín white-tufted grebe)
    • Titicaca grebe, Podiceps microptera Gould 1868
    • Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena (Boddaert 1783)
      • P. g. grisegena (Boddaert 1783) (gray-cheeked grebe)
      • P. g. holbollii Reinhardt 1853 (Holbøll's grebe)
    • Great crested grebe, Podiceps cristatus (Linnaeus 1758)
      • P. c. cristatus (Linnaeus 1758) (Eurasian great crested grebe)
      • P. c. infuscatus Salvadori 1884 (African great crested grebe)
      • P. c. australis Gould 1844 (Australasian great crested grebe)
    • Horned grebe or Slavonian grebe, Podiceps auritus (Linnaeus 1758)
      • P. a. auritus (Linnaeus 1758) (Eurasian Horned Grebe)
      • P. a. cornutus (Gmelin 1789)
    • Black-necked grebe or eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis Brehm 1831
      • P. n. nigricollis Brehm 1831 (Eurasian Black-necked Grebe)
      • P. n. gurneyi (Roberts 1919) (African black-necked grebe)
    • Colombian grebe, Podiceps andinus (Meyer de Schauensee 1959) (extinct 1977)
    • Silvery grebe, Podiceps occipitalis Garnot 1826
      • P. o. juninensis von Berlepsch & Stolzmann 1894 (northern silvery grebe)
      • P. o. occipitalis Garnot 1826 (Southern silvery Grebe)
    • Junin grebe, Podiceps taczanowskii von Berlepsch & Stolzmann 1894
    • Hooded grebe, Podiceps gallardoi Rumboll 1974
    • North-American Eared grebe, Podiceps californicus Heermann 1854

See also


  1. ^ a b Mace, Alice E. (1986). "Changes Through Time". The Birds Around Us (Hardcover ed.). Ortho Books. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-89721-068-3.
  2. ^ a b c d Fjeldså, John (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-1-85391-186-6.
  3. ^ Frank, Harry R.; Neu, Wolfgang (1929). "Die Schwimmbewegungen der Tauchvögel (Podiceps)". Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Physiologie (in German). 10 (3): 410–418. doi:10.1007/bf00339264. ISSN 0340-7594.
  4. ^ Simmons (1956). "Feather-eating and Pellet-formation in the Great Crested Grebe". Br. Birds. 49: 432–435.
  5. ^ Stolpe, M. (1935). "Colymbus, Hesperornis, Podiceps:, ein Vergleich ihrer hinteren Extremität". J. Ornithol. (in German). 80 (1): 161–247. doi:10.1007/BF01908745.
  6. ^ Cracraft, Joel (March 1982). "Phylogenetic Relationships and Monophyly of Loons, Grebes, and Hesperornithiform Birds, with Comments on the Early History of Birds" (PDF). Systematic Zoology. 31 (1): 35–56. doi:10.2307/2413412. JSTOR 2413412.
  7. ^ "Avian Phylogenomics Project".
  8. ^ Jarvis, E.D.; et al. (12 December 2014). "Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds". Science. 346 (6215): 1320–1331. doi:10.1126/science.1253451. PMC 4405904. PMID 25504713.
  9. ^ Chubb, A.L. (January 2004). "New nuclear evidence for the oldest divergence among neognath birds: the phylogenetic utility of ZENK (i)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 30 (1): 140–151. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(03)00159-3. PMID 15022765.
  10. ^ Ericson, Per G. P.; Anderson, C. L.; Britton, T.; Elzanowski, A.; Johansson, U. S.; Källersjö, M.; Ohlson, J. I.; Parsons, T. J.; et al. (December 2006). "Diversification of Neoaves: Integration of molecular sequence data and fossils" (PDF). Biology Letters. 2 (4): 543–547. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0523. PMC 1834003. PMID 17148284.
  11. ^ Hackett, Shannon J.; Kimball, Rebecca T.; Reddy, Sushma; Bowie, Rauri C. K.; Braun, Edward L.; Braun, Michael J.; Chojnowski, Jena L.; Cox, W. Andrew; et al. (27 June 2008). "A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History". Science. 320 (5884): 1763–1768. doi:10.1126/science.1157704. PMID 18583609.
  12. ^ Mayr, Gerald (February 2004). "Morphological evidence for sister group relationship between flamingos (Aves: Phoenicopteridae) and grebes (Podicipedidae)" (PDF). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 140 (2): 157–169. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2003.00094.x. Retrieved November 3, 2009.
  13. ^ a b Mayr, Gerald (2006). "The contribution of fossils to the reconstruction of the higher-level phylogeny of birds" (PDF). Species, Phylogeny and Evolution. 1: 59–64. ISSN 1098-660X. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  14. ^ Benton, M.J.; Cook, E.; Grigorescu, D.; Popa, E.; Tallódi, E. (May 1997). "Dinosaurs and other tetrapods in an Early Cretaceous bauxite-filled fissure, northwestern Romania" (PDF). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 130 (1–4): 275–292. doi:10.1016/S0031-0182(96)00151-4.
  15. ^ Cracraft, Joel. "Systematics and evolution of the Gruiformes (class, Aves). 1, The Eocene family Geranoididae and the early history of the Gruiformes". American Museum Novitates (2388). hdl:2246/2598.
  16. ^ Wetmore, Alexander (April 1930). "The Age of the Supposed Cretaceous Birds from New Jersey" (PD F). Auk. 47 (2): 186–188. doi:10.2307/4075921. JSTOR 4075921.
  17. ^ Baird, Donald (1967). "Age of Fossil Birds from the Greensands of New Jersey" (PDF). Auk. 84 (2): 260–262. doi:10.2307/4083191. JSTOR 4083191.
  18. ^ Cracraft, Joel (1972). "A New Cretaceous Charadriiform Family" (PDF). Auk. 89 (1): 36–46. doi:10.2307/4084058. JSTOR 4084058.
  19. ^ Wetmore, Alexander (1932). "Two Primitive Rails from the Eocene of Colorado and Wyoming" (PDF). Condor. 33 (3): 107–109. doi:10.2307/1363575. JSTOR 1363575.
  20. ^ Varricchio, David J. (2002). "A new bird from the Upper Cretaceous Two Medicine Formation of Montana". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 39 (1): 19–26. doi:10.1139/e01-057. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23.
  21. ^ a b Storer, Robert W. (2000). "The systematic position of the Miocene grebe Thiornis sociata Navás". Ann. Paleontol. 86 (2): 129. doi:10.1016/S0753-3969(00)80003-8.
  22. ^ Cracraft, Joel. "Systematics and evolution of the Gruiformes (class Aves). 3, Phylogeny of the suborder Grues". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 151: 1. hdl:2246/597.
  23. ^ a b Murray, Bertram G., Jr. (1967). "Grebes from the Late Pliocene of North America" (PDF). Condor. 69 (3): 277–288. doi:10.2307/1366317. JSTOR 1366317.
  24. ^ "A Pleistocene avifauna from Jalisco, Mexico". Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan. 24: 205.
  25. ^ Mlíkovský, Jiří. "A preliminary review of the grebes, family Podicipedidae". Systematic Notes on Asian Birds (74): 125–131.
  26. ^ a b Jehl, Joseph R. Jr. (1967). "Pleistocene Birds from Fossil Lake, Oregon" (PDF). Condor. 69 (1): 24–27. doi:10.2307/1366369. JSTOR 1366369.
  27. ^ Wetmore, Alexander (1933). "Pliocene bird remains from Idaho". Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 87: 1–12.
  28. ^ "grebe". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  29. ^ Boyd, John (2007). "Mirandornithes & Ardeae I". John Boyd's website. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  30. ^ Haaramo, Mikko (2007). "Aves [Avialae]– basal birds". Mikko's Phylogeny Archive. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  31. ^ "Taxonomic lists- Aves". (net, info). Archived from the original on 11 January 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  32. ^ Çınar, Ümüt (November 2015). "04 → Cᴏʟᴜᴍʙᴇᴀ : Pʜᴏᴇɴɪᴄᴏᴘᴛᴇʀɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Pᴏᴅɪᴄɪᴘᴇᴅɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Mᴇsɪᴛᴏʀɴɪᴛʜɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Pᴛᴇʀᴏᴄʟɪᴅɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Cᴏʟᴜᴍʙɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs". English Names of Birds. Retrieved 30 December 2015.

Further reading

  • Konter, André (2001): Grebes of our world: visiting all species on 5 continents. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-33-4
  • Ogilvie, Malcolm & Rose, Chris (2003): Grebes of the World. Bruce Coleman Books, Uxbridge, England. ISBN 1-872842-03-8
  • Sibley, Charles Gald & Monroe, Burt L. Jr. (1990): Distribution and taxonomy of the birds of the world: A Study in Molecular Evolution. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. ISBN 0-300-04969-2

External links

Alaotra grebe

The Alaotra grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus), also known as Delacour's little grebe or rusty grebe, is an extinct grebe that was endemic to Lake Alaotra and surrounding lakes in Madagascar.

Atitlán grebe

The Atitlán grebe (Podilymbus gigas), also known as giant grebe, giant pied-billed grebe, or poc, is an extinct water bird, a relative of the pied-billed grebe. It was endemic at the Lago de Atitlán in Guatemala at an altitude of 1700 m asl. It was described in 1929 by Ludlow Griscom based on a specimen collected in 1926 and had been overlooked in the past. American ecologist Anne LaBastille observed the decline of this species over a period of 25 years. It was declared extinct by 1990.

Australasian grebe

The Australasian grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) is a small waterbird common on fresh water lakes and rivers in greater Australia, New Zealand and on nearby Pacific islands. At 25–27 cm (9.8–10.6 in) in length, it is one of the smallest members of the grebe family, along with the least grebe and little grebe.

Black-necked grebe

The black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), known in North America as the eared grebe, is a member of the grebe family of water birds. It was described in 1831 by Christian Ludwig Brehm. There are currently three accepted subspecies, including the nominate subspecies. Its breeding plumage features a distinctive ochre-coloured plumage that extends behind its eye and over its ear coverts. The rest of the upper parts, including the head, neck, and breast, are coloured black to blackish brown. The flanks are tawny rufous to maroon-chestnut, and the abdomen is white. When in its non-breeding plumage, this bird has greyish-black upper parts, including the top of the head and a vertical stripe on the back of the neck. The flanks are also greyish-black. The rest of the body is a white or whitish colour. The juvenile has more brown in its darker areas. The subspecies californicus can be distinguished from the nominate by the former's usually longer bill. The other subspecies, P. n. gurneyi, can be differentiated by its greyer head and upper parts and by its smaller size. P. n. gurneyi can also be told apart by its lack of a non-breeding plumage. This species is present in parts of Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas.

The black-necked grebe uses multiple foraging techniques. Insects, which make up the majority of this bird's diet, are caught either on the surface of the water or when they are in flight. It occasionally practices foliage gleaning. This grebe dives to catch crustaceans, molluscs, tadpoles, and small frogs and fish. When moulting at saline lakes, this bird feeds mostly on brine shrimp. The black-necked grebe makes a floating cup nest on an open lake. The nest cup is covered with a disc. This nest is located both in colonies and by itself. During the breeding season, which varies depending on location, this species will lay one (sometimes two) clutch of three to four eggs. The number of eggs is sometimes larger due to conspecific brood parasitism. After a 21-day incubation period, the eggs hatch, and then the nest is deserted. After about 10 days, the parents split up the chicks between themselves. After this, the chicks become independent in about 10 days, and fledge in about three weeks.

Although it generally avoids flight, the black-necked grebe travels as far as 6,000 kilometres (3,700 mi) during migration. In addition, it becomes flightless for two months after completing a migration to reach an area where it can safely moult. During this moult, the grebe can double in weight. The migrations to reach these areas are dangerous, sometimes with thousands of grebe deaths. In spite of this, it is classified as a least concern species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is likely that this is the most numerous grebe in the world. There are potential threats to it, such as oil spills, but these are not likely to present a major risk to the overall population.

Clark's grebe

Clark's grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) is a North American waterbird species in the grebe family. Until the 1980s, it was thought to be a pale morph of the western grebe, which it resembles in size, range, and behavior. Intermediates between the two species are known.

This species nests on large inland lakes in western North America and migrates to the Pacific coast over the winter. It maintains local populations year-round in California, Nevada, and Arizona (the Lower Colorado River Valley), as well as in central Mexico.

It feeds by diving for insects, polychaete worms, crustaceans, and salamanders.It performs the same elaborate courtship display as the western grebe.

Gloster Grebe

The Gloster Grebe was developed by the Gloster Aircraft Company from the Gloster Grouse (an experimental aircraft later developed as a trainer), and was the Royal Air Force's first post-First World War fighter aircraft, entering service in 1923.

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".

Hoary-headed grebe

The hoary-headed grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) is a member of the grebe family. It breeds in southern parts of Australia and Tasmania; it winters throughout the island. The bird takes its name from the silvery-white streaking on its black head. It is common in Australia, with a population of about 500,000. Its habitat is similar to that of the Australasian grebe.

Horned grebe

The horned grebe or Slavonian grebe (Podiceps auritus) is a relatively small waterbird in the family Podicipedidae. There are two known subspecies: P. a. auritus, which breeds in Eurasia, and P. a. cornutus, which breeds in North America. The Eurasian subspecies is distributed over most of northern Europe and Asia, breeding from Greenland to western China. The North American subspecies spans most of Canada and some of the United States. The species got its name from large patches of yellowish feathers located behind the eyes, called "horns", that the birds can raise and lower at will.

Least grebe

The least grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus), an aquatic bird, is the smallest member of the grebe family. It occurs in the New World from the southwestern United States and Mexico to Chile and Argentina, and also on Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles.

Little grebe

The little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), also known as dabchick, is a member of the grebe family of water birds. The genus name is from Ancient Greek takhus "fast" and bapto "to sink under". The specific ruficollis is from Latin rufus "red" and Modern Latin -collis, "-necked", itself derived from Latin collum "neck".At 23 to 29 cm (9.1 to 11.4 in) in length it is the smallest European member of its family. It is commonly found in open bodies of water across most of its range.

New Zealand grebe

The New Zealand grebe, New Zealand dabchick, or weweia (Poliocephalus rufopectus) is a member of the grebe family endemic to New Zealand.

Outline of birds

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to birds:

Birds (class Aves) – winged, bipedal, endothermic (warm-blooded), egg-laying, vertebrate animals. There are around 10,000 living species, making them the most varied of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich.

Pied-billed grebe

The pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) is a species of the grebe family of water birds. Since the Atitlán grebe (Podilymbus gigas) has become extinct, it is the sole extant member of the genus Podilymbus. The pied-billed grebe is primarily found in ponds throughout the Americas. Other names of this grebe include American dabchick, rail, dabchick, Carolina grebe, devil-diver, dive-dapper, dipper, hell-diver, pied-billed dabchick, pied-bill, thick-billed grebe, and water witch.

Red-necked grebe

The red-necked grebe (Podiceps grisegena) is a migratory aquatic bird found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Its wintering habitat is largely restricted to calm waters just beyond the waves around ocean coasts, although some birds may winter on large lakes. Grebes prefer shallow bodies of fresh water such as lakes, marshes or fish-ponds as breeding sites.

The red-necked grebe is a nondescript dusky-grey bird in winter. During the breeding season, it acquires the distinctive red neck plumage, black cap and contrasting pale grey face from which its name was derived. It also has an elaborate courtship display and a variety of loud mating calls. Once paired, it builds a nest from water plants on top of floating vegetation in a shallow lake or bog.

Like all grebes, the Red-necked is a good swimmer, a particularly swift diver, and responds to danger by diving rather than flying. The feet are positioned far back on the body, near the tail, which makes the bird ungainly on land. It dives for fish or picks insects off vegetation; it also swallows its own feathers, possibly to protect the digestive system. The conservation status of its two subspecies—P. g. grisegena found in Europe and western Asia, and the larger P. g. holboelii (formerly Holbœll grebe), in North America and eastern Siberia—is evaluated as Least Concern, and the global population is stable or growing.

Silvery grebe

The silvery grebe (Podiceps occipitalis) is a species of grebe in the family Podicipedidae. It is found in the western and southern part of South America at altitudes of up to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft). Its natural habitat is freshwater lakes but it also feeds in saline lakes.

Titicaca grebe

"Centropelma" redirects here. This was also the initial, preoccupied name of the spider genus Nicodamus.

The Titicaca grebe (Rollandia microptera), also known as the Titicaca flightless grebe or short-winged grebe, is a grebe found on the altiplano of Peru and Bolivia. As its name implies, its main population occurs on Lake Titicaca. Lake Uru Uru and Poopó, the Rio Desaguadero, and small lakes that connect to Lake Titicaca in wet years, serve as "spillovers" territory. In the past, the population was larger and several of these lakes – such as Lakes Umayo and Arapa – apparently had and may still have permanent large colonies (BirdLife International 2006). It is sometimes placed in Podiceps or a monotypic genus Centropelma. Its local name is zampullín del Titicaca.

USS Grebe (AM-43)

USS Grebe (AM-43) was a Lapwing-class minesweeper in the United States Navy.

Grebe was built by the Staten Island Steam Boat Co., was launched 17 December 1918; it was sponsored by Miss Emma Youmans and commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard 1 May 1919; Lt. Niels Drustrup was in command. It served in many capacities until it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1943.

Western grebe

The western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) is a species in the grebe family of water birds. Folk names include "dabchick", "swan grebe" and "swan-necked grebe".

Western grebe fossils from the Late Pleistocene of SW North America were described as a distinct species, but later ranked as a paleosubspecies Aechmophorus occidentalis lucasi. More recent study found them to fall within the variation now known to exist in today's birds.

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


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