Bird’s ID – Great Grebe

Great Grebe


The Great Grebe (Podiceps major) is the largest species of grebe in the world. A disjunct population exists in northwestern Peru, while the main distribution is from extreme southeastern Brazil to Patagonia and central Chile.

This is a very large grebe, with proportions more like a goose or a cormorant then a typical grebe. They range in length from 67–80 cm (26-32 inches) and usually weigh about 1600 grams (3.5 lb), but can scale to at least 2 kg (4.4 lb). They are buffy-rufous on the neck and chest, blackish on the back and have a whitish belly. The head is sooty gray with a reddish-brown eye. Due to its size and unique coloration, the great grebe is unlikely to be confused with any other bird, including other grebes.

The great grebe lives on a diet mostly of fish, sometimes over 11 cm (4.3 inches) long, but usually smaller. Prey competition can occasionally occur with the neotropic cormorant over fish, but that species (in spite of smaller body size) usually takes larger fish. Also insects, crustaceans and mollusks are taken. The diet can switch to almost half crabs during the wintertime along the coasts, and these birds can also take the young of other waterbirds, especially coots.

fter living in groups numbering up to the hundreds, these birds move inland to breed. Most populations lay their eggs from October to January, becoming later further south. In the isolated Peru population, nesting occurs in September & October, with a possible second clutch in January or February. They are moderately social when breeding, occasionally forming colonies. Three to five eggs (sometimes six) are laid.


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© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

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