Grebes are water birds. They look like ducks but belong to a different family. Grebes are very good swimmers and divers but have difficulty walking on land. They spend most of their lives in water. Grebes like to nest in the wetlands (marshes and lakes). Their floating nests can be found among the reeds near the shore. The young ride on the backs of their parents.
There are seven grebe species in North America - Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Clark's Grebe and Least Grebe. This web page is about the Red-necked Grebe. The Red-necked Grebe is the second largest grebe in North America.
- HABITAT - They nest on freshwater lakes and wetlands (ponds, marshes, sloughs)
- RANGE - (map) ; During the summer breeding season, Red-necked Grebes range from Alaska, Yukon, and Northwest Territories down through the western and central Canadian provinces into the northern states. They spend the winter along the Pacific coast (from Alaska to southern California) and the Atlantic coast (from Nova Scotia to Florida).
The Red-necked Grebe is more colourful in the summer than in the winter.
-head has a black cap, pale greyish cheeks, long pointed bill
-long neck, back of neck is black
-throat and chest is chestnut (reddish brown)
-stomach is pale, sides are greyish
-back and wings are dark (brownish black)
In winter the bird is mainly grey in colour
-length is 46 to 52 cm (17 to 22 in)
-legs are set far back on its body
-toes are lobed not webbed like ducks
BEAK - long, sharp beak for catching fish; for gathering materials to make the nest.
TOES - Lobed toes (individually webbed toes) help to make this bird an excellent swimmer and an expert diver.
SINKS IN THE WATER - can sink slowly in a sitting position leaving only head and neck above the water
HOLDS BREATH - can stay underwater for three minutes or more
MIGRATES - spends the winter in coastal waters
- The nest floats on the water
- It is attached to reeds,cattails or bulrushes close to shore.
- Both male and female build the nest.
- It measures 24 inches across, slightly hollowed
- Materials used for the nest are dead and rotting reeds and flags; matted together with algae and water mosses
- The eggs often get wet.
- If the nest is destroyed the birds will rebuild it.
- Nest is near the shore to provide shelter from wind and waves.
- EGGS AND YOUNG BIRDS