Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Tachybaptus ruficollis
Little Grebe


Distinguishing Features - Length: average 20 cm; weight: average 170 g. Both sexes similar in appearance. Crown and hindneck: black extending around eyes to chin; back: blackish; cheeks, sides and front of neck: dark rufous-chestnut; upperparts and sides: brown, mottled with white; lower breast and belly: white; flanks: rufous with blackish wash. Bill: black with creamy white, pale cream or yellowish patch at gape; iris: dark red; legs and feet: black.

Little Grebe Habitat

Most of Eurasia to eastern Pacific islands and Africa. Lakes, dams, small ponds, backwaters in slow-moving streams and rivers, and ephemeral pans, usually with emergent or overhanging vegetation, most often in freshwater, but also occurs on saltpans and estuaries, rarely on the sea.


Dives for most of its food - small fish, frogs, tadpoles, water insects and larvae, small crustaceans and molluscs.


The nest consists of a floating heap of water plants, either on open water or concealed in vegetation as in photo, usually anchored to vegetation such as the branch of a submerged bush, or stems of sedges, or dead tree trunk.

Most frequently heard call is the courtship trill, uttered singly or in duet; a long, high-pitched, slightly descending whinny. Lower pitched calls audible at close range include ‘weet-weet-weet’ or ‘wee-wee-wee’ repeated, and short clucking sounds. Alarm call a loud, sharp ‘chik’.

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