Annotated List of the Seabirds of the World - Grebes


Basic Pied-billed Grebe, California

In non-breeding plumage, Pied-billed Grebes are relatively drab. The stubby bill carries on hint of the black vertical stripe that gives the species its name. The heavy bill and its associated muscles is used to crush shelled prey such as crayfish which form a large part of the diet. This is the only species of grebe that breeds widely in both North and South America and occurs with increasing regularity in western Europe.

Grebes received less attention than they deserve and it is fair to say that there are few 'grebe nuts' traveling around the globe in hopes of seeing all twenty-two grebe species or fifty-three recognized subspecies. Grebes are found on all continents but Antarctica, they are one of the oldest forms of birds with an extensive fossil lineage. Their stronghold lies in South America and there is evidence that the family arose in what was Antarctica or precursors to the landform that is now South America. At least three species (Alaotra Grebe of central Madagascar, Colombian Grebe of Lake Tota on the Colombia-Venezuela border and Atitlan Grebe of Guatemala) have already or soon will become extinct and others are critically endangered.


White-tufted Grebe (Rollandia rolland)

Short-winged Grebe (Rollandia microptera

Also known as Titicaca Flightless Grebe (pop 2-5,000), classified as - VULNERABLE!


Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae)

Alaotra Grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus)
Also known as Delacour's Little Grebe or Rusty Grebe. Restricted to Madagascar and probably - EXTINCT!

Madagascar Grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii)
Restricted to Madagascar (pop 5-10,000), classified as - VULNERABLE!

Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)

Atitlan Grebe (Podilymbus gigas)
Restricted to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and probably - EXTINCT!

Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus)
Also known as Hoary-headed Dabchick. Restricted to Australia, Tasmania and recently begun colonization of New Zealand.

New Zealand Grebe (Poliocephalus rufopectus)
Also known as New Zealand Dabchick, classified as - VULNERABLE!

Great Grebe (Podiceps major)

Restricted to southern South America.

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Also known as Grey-cheeked Grebe

Great Crested Grebe(Podiceps cristatus)

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Also known as Slavonian Grebe.

Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Also known as Eared Grebe.

Colombian Grebe (Podiceps andinus)
Restricted to Colombia and probably - EXTINCT!

Silvery Grebe (Podiceps occipitalis)
Also known as Silver or Crested Grebe.

Puna Grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii)
Also known as Junin Flightless Grebe or Taczanowski's Grebe - CRITICALLY ENDANGERED!

Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi)
Also known as Mitred Grebe.

Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)

Several grebes have brilliant red or yellow irises.

Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii)


Useful Literature

Del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Konter, A. (2002) Grebes of Our World Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Ogilvie, M. and Rose, C. (2003) Grebes of the World. Bruce Coleman, Uxbridge. [For an OW review of this book click here]



Copyright © 2003 All rights reserved Angus Wilson

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