Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Scientific name: Podiceps cristatus

Did you know: The Great Crested Grebe, known for its striking black and white plumage, was once perilously close to extinction in the UK due to fashion demands for its ornate feathers.

What Do Great Crested Grebes Look Like? (how to identify them)

The Great Crested Grebe is a symbol of elegance on UK waters. Distinguished by its striking white and black plumage, this bird is the largest member of the grebe family in the Old World.

In summer, adults boast a black head with a ruff of chestnut and black, and a white face. The body is adorned in shades of grey-brown, rust, and white, while the bill is pinkish and it has deep red eyes. During winter, the plumage is duller and lacks the ruff.

Differences Between Male and Female Great Crested Grebes

Males and females share a similar appearance, although males tend to be slightly larger. Both sexes display the same intricate plumage and colours throughout the year.

What Do Great Crested Grebes Eat?

These birds primarily dine on fish, supplemented by crustaceans, molluscs, small eels, amphibians, and occasionally some plant matter. They are adept swimmers and divers, hunting their prey underwater with skill.

Where Do Great Crested Grebes Live? (inc. migration info)

Great Crested Grebes are found in vegetated freshwater lakes across Europe, Africa, and parts of Australasia. In the UK, they breed in wetland habitats and are present all year round, except in the north parts of Scotland. During winter, they can also be found along coasts.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Great Crested Grebes)

Their call is a distinctive loud barking “rah-rah-rah”, accompanied by clicking “kek” sounds and deep growls. These calls are part of the grebe’s communication, particularly noticeable during their elaborate courtship rituals.

Fun Great Crested Grebe Facts (kid-friendly)

  • They can dive underwater to catch fish.
  • Known for their beautiful courtship dances.
  • Once hunted for their feathers for ladies’ hats.
  • Chicks often ride on their parents’ backs.
  • Their legs are placed towards the back of their bodies, perfect for swimming but clumsy on land.
  • They have different looks for summer and winter.
  • They cover their eggs with algae to camouflage them.
  • Known for their loud and varied calls.
  • Their numbers have rebounded thanks to conservation efforts.

Facts About The Great Crested Grebe

Diet: Mainly fish.
Bird Family: Grebes
Length: 46-51cm
Wingspan: 85-90cm
Weight: 590-1,500g
Scientific Name: Podiceps cristatus

The Great Crested Grebe Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Great Crested Grebe Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile