- Tachybaptus ruficollis
25–29 cm (9¾-11½ in)
- Dark greyish-brown above
- Paler below with tawny flanks
- Blackish crown and hindneck
- Chestnut throat, ear-coverts, and sides and front of neck
- Black bill with white tip
- Yellow gape patch
- Olive-green legs
Common and widespread in the Old World.
Breeds widely across Europe from Iberia, the British Isles and southern Scandinavia eastwards including parts of Turkey and the Middle East. Breeds across southern Asia including much of India and Indochina to China, Korea and Japan. Has a scattered distribution in the Philippines, Indonesia (rare breeder on Java and Bali) and New Guinea. In Africa breeds across the north-west and in the Nile Delta and widespread south of the Sahara absent only from the driest or most heavily forested areas.
About nine subspecies recognised.
- Nominate race occurs in Europe, Turkey and north-west Africa,
- capensis (larger with more white in wing) in Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia from the Caucasus to Burma,
- iraquensis (with indistinct white wing-bar) in Iraq and south-west Iran,
- poggei in Japan, China, Taiwan and Malaysia,
- kunikyonis in the central Ryukyu Islands, philippensis on some of the Philippines,
- cotabato on Mindanao,
- vulcanorum on islands from Java to Timor and the Kai Islands and
- tricolor in Sulawesi, the Moluccas and northern New Guinea Islands.
The last two subspecies have been proposed as a split called Tricolored Grebe, Tachybaptus tricolor.
- One more subspecies, albescens has been proposed for the yellow/orange eyed Asian birds currently included by Clements in subspecies capensis (all other capensis have dark eyes). Under this classification capensis is restricted to Africa south of the Sahara and Madagascar while albescens is the race inhabiting the Caucasus east to Iran, Central and South Asia including Sri Lanka. IOC, H&M4 and Birdlife/HBW all adopt this classification and recognize albescens as valid.
Well-vegetated ponds and lakes, mainly in lowland areas.
Diet includes small fish and aquatic invertebrates.
Its nest is a heap of vegetation in reed beds or other marginal vegetation. 4-6 whitish initially soon becoming stained eggs are laid and are incubated by both sexes for 19-25 days.
whit-whit and in breeding season utters a whinnying trill, sometimes in duet.
<flashmp3>Tachybaptus ruficollis (song).mp3</flashmp3>
Little Grebe voice clip
Little Grebe voice clip
Recording © by Alok Tewari
Dist. Gurgaon, Haryana, India, August 2016
Alarm call given by parent feeding chicks, on perceiving danger.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of Little Grebe
- Brazil, M.A. (1991) The Birds of Japan. Smithsonian Inst. Press.
- Llimona, F., del Hoyo, J., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52477 on 1 April 2019).
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2021) Little Grebe. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 17 January 2021 from https://www.birdforum.net/wiki/Little_Grebe