Great Crested Grebe

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Great Crested Grebe
Adult Great Crested Grebe, with ear-tufts up
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Podiceps
Species: P. cristatus
Binomial name
Podiceps cristatus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Great Crested Grebes have a beautiful courtship display. Notice chicks on mother's back, and small gift brought by the male.
Grebes in dance mode
The young grebe is coloured quite differently.
Grebe on nest

The Great Crested Grebe is a water bird. It is a member of the grebe family. Its scientific name is Podiceps cristatus.

Description[change | edit source]

The Great Crested Grebe is a medium sized bird. It is 46–51 cm long. Its wingspan is 59–73 cm long (this is the length of both wings).

It is white and brown and it has orange crest feathers on its head. It has a long, sharp pink bill. Baby Great Crested Grebes have black and white stripes on their heads. It is similar to the stripes on a zebra.

Habitat and behaviour[change | edit source]

The Great Crested Grebe is found in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. It is the biggest grebe in Europe. It lives in freshwater lakes. It eats crustaceans (for example, crabs), insects and small frogs. It dives into the water to find food.

The Great Crested Grebe has an interesting mating ritual. This means two birds (male and female) do a "dance" in the water before they mate. Grebes dance every time the pair meets, and the dance varies according to the circumstance. Returning to the nest is different from meeting out on the water, for instance. Most dances end in a bout of head-shaking.[1]

The Great Crested Grebe makes a nest from plants. The nest floats on top of the water. A pair of Great Crested Grebes will usually have two eggs. When the babies are born, they cannot swim. Their parents teach them to swim and dive. Sometimes the babies will sit on their parents backs while the parents swim in the water.

Conservation[change | edit source]

The Great Crested Grebe nearly became extinct in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. This is because people wanted to use their orange head feathers. People wanted to put the feathers on their hats and clothes. The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) stopped this. There are now many Great Crested Grebes in the United Kingdom.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Huxley, Julian 1914. The courtship of the Great Crested Grebe. Proceedings of the Zoological Society, London. Reprinted by Jonathan Cape, London 1968, with a forword by Desmond Morris.