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Little Grebe

From Opus

Nominate subspeciesPhoto by Nigel PyeCley, Norfolk, May 2006
Nominate subspecies
Photo by Nigel Pye
Cley, Norfolk, May 2006
Tachybaptus ruficollis


[edit] Identification

JuvenilePhoto by Alok Tewari
Photo by Alok Tewari

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

[edit] Distribution

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

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.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Photo by aloktewariDist. Gurgaon, Haryana, India, August 2016
Photo by aloktewari
Dist. Gurgaon, Haryana, India, August 2016

About nine subspecies recognised[1].

  • 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.
  • One more subspecies, albescens has been proposed for the yellow-eyed Asian birds currently placed in subspecies capensis (all other capensis have red eyes).

The last two subspecies have been proposed split as Tricolored Grebe, Tachybaptus tricolor.

[edit] Habitat

Well-vegetated ponds and lakes, mainly in lowland areas.

[edit] Behaviour

Nominate subspeciesPhoto by luca26Adda River, Lombardia, Italy, May 2018
Nominate subspecies
Photo by luca26
Adda River, Lombardia, Italy, May 2018

[edit] Diet

Diet includes small fish and aquatic invertebrates.

[edit] Breeding

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.

[edit] Vocalisation

whit-whit and in breeding season utters a whinnying trill, sometimes in duet.

Listen in an external program

Listen in an external program
Recording by Alok Tewari
Dist. Gurgaon, Haryana, India, Aug-2016
Alarm call given by parent feeding chicks, on perceiving danger.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of Little Grebe

[edit] External Links


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