GREBEs of Asia

Order Podicipediformes    Family Podicipedidae

The grebe family Podicipedidae is the only member of the Podicipediformes order. They have no close relatives perhaps flamingos are the closest. They have large feet with lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, 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. They respond to danger by diving rather than flying. They vary from 23 to 71 cm. Bills vary from short and thick to long and pointed, depending on the diet, which ranges from fish to freshwater insects and crustaceans. Grebes make floating nests of plant material concealed among reeds on the surface of the water.

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. 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. The young are often striped and retain some of their juvenile plumage even after reaching full size.


Genus Podiceps
Adults have striking breeding plumage, with no difference between the sexes. In winter, the plumage is subdued whites and greys.

Grebe, Eared also Black-necked Grebe  Podiceps nigricollis   Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa
The breeding Eared Grebe has black head, neck; yellow ear tufts. Nonbreeding is gray and white with poorly defined black cap.
Similar to: Horned Grebe. Horned Grebe has white tip on bill; Eared-grebe does not. Breeding Horned Grebe has rufous neck; Eared Grebe has black neck.
Similar to: Red-necked Grebe. Red-necked Grebe has yellow at base of bill: Eared-grebe does not.  Eared Grebe has black neck; Red-necked Grebe has rufous neck.
Image by: 1, 8) Len Blumin - California  2) Phillip Cowan   3) Dick Daniels - Half Moon Bay, California  4) Mike Pazzani   5, 6, Bill Bouton - California   7) Alan D. Wilson  - British Columbia   8) Cristiano Crolle - Maggiore Lake, Italy
8) Leucistic Eared Grebe
1 - 4) Nonbreeding  5, 6, 7) Breeding


Grebe, Great-crested Podiceps cristatus   Found: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
The Great-crested Grebe is the largest Old World grebe. In breeding season its crest is an identifiable feature. In winter it is whiter than most grebes with white above the eye and a pink bill.
Image by: 1) nottsexminer  2) Hans Hillewaert - Belgium 3) Marco Serra  4, 5, 6) Dick Daniels - New Zealand  
1, 2) nonbreeding  3, 4, 5, 6) Breeding 



Grebe, Horned also Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus   Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia
The breeding Horned Grebe has a black head; brown ear-like tuffs; red neck, eyes; small black bill tipped with white.
Similar to: Eared Grebe. Horned Grebe has white tip on bill; Eared-grebe does not. Breeding Horned Grebe has rufous neck; Eared Grebe has black neck.
Similar to: Red-necked Grebe. Horned Grebe has dark bill; Red-necked Grebe has yellow at base of bill.
Image by: 1)   Rick Leche   2) Dick Daniels - Biloxi, Mississippi  3, 4) Dick - Great Britain   5) Mke Baird at Morro Bay, California  6, 8) Len Blumin - California   7) Shawn McCready - Alberta, CA


Grebe, Red-necked  Podiceps grisegena  Found: North America, Europe, Asia
The breeding Red-necked Grebe has a red neck; black cap; light gray face. Nonbreeding bird is gray and white.
Similar to: Eared Grebe. Red-necked Grebe has yellow at base of bill: Eared-grebe does not.  Eared Grebe has black neck; Red-necked Grebe has rufous neck.
Similar to: Horned Grebe. Horned Grebe has dark bill; Red-necked Grebe has yellow at base of bill.
Image by: 1) Winnu  2, 7) Donna Dewhurst USFWS - Anchorage, Alaska  3) Hilary Chambers - England   4) Martin Olsson - Denmark  5) Kenton Letkeman - Saskatchewan  6) Andrew Reding - British Columbia
1, 2) With young  3) Nonbreeding  6, 7) Breeding





Genus Tachybaptus

Grebe, Little Tachybaptus ruficollis   Found: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
The breeding Little Grebe has dark upperparts; rich rufous head, flanks; light rump; bright stripe from eye to base of bill.
Nonbreeding has brownish-gray upperparts; light face, neck.
Image by: 1) Rhion Pritchard  2) Andy Morffew  3) BS ThurnerHof    4) Roger Sanderson   5) Craig Adam - South Africa  6) Cristiano Crolle - Torrile. Italy 7) Dick Daniels - Tanzania  8) Dick - Kenya
1) Chick and adult  2) Nonbreeding  3 - 7) Breeding






Back to Top