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Little Grebe - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Nigel Pye
Cley, Norfolk, 5 May 2006
Tachybaptus ruficollis

Includes: Tricoloured Grebe


Chick T. r. albescens
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Protected Water-body, Delhi, India, 16 August 2012

25–29 cm (9¾-11½ in)

  • upperparts dark greyish-brown
  • underparts paler, greyer
  • flanks tawny
  • crown and hindneck blackish
  • throat, ear-coverts, and sides and front of neck chestnut
  • bill black with white tip
  • gape patch yellow
  • legs olive-green


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.

Vagrants recorded on the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands. Mainly resident with northernmost populations migratory or dispersive.


Subspecies collaris, tricolor and vulcanorum may be split as "Tricolored Grebe", Tachybaptus tricolor.

Sub-adult, subspecies poggei
Photo by SeeToh
Lorong Halus, Singapore, 17 June 2018


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

Populations in Libya and the Nile Delta not assigned to subspecies


Adult T. r. albescens
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Dist. Gurgaon, Haryana, India, 23 August 2016

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.


Nominate subspecies
Photo by luca26
Adda River, Lombardia, Italy, 6 May 2018

whit-whit and in breeding season utters a whinnying trill, sometimes in duet. Little Grebe voice clip

Little Grebe voice clip
Recording © by Alok Tewari
Dist. Gurgaon, Haryana, India, 23 August 2016
Alarm call given by parent feeding chicks, on perceiving danger.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2022. IOC World Bird List (v 12.2) DRAFT. Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.12.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of Little Grebe
  4. Brazil, M.A. (1991) The Birds of Japan. Smithsonian Inst. Press.
  5. 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).

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GSearch checked for 2020 platform.