Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Quick Facts

Length: -
Height: 55 cm
Weight: 1 100 grams
Colour: -
Habitat: Large deep open bodies of freshwater, rivers, lagoons, lakes, swamps saltfields, estuaries and bays
Food: Fish
Predators: -
Status: Not Present in NT. Rare in SA & TAS. Secure in all other states and territories of Australia

The Great Crested Grebe is a medium to large aquatic bird, and is the largest of the grebes. It has a long neck and head with a distinctive black double crest. The Great Crested Grebe has dark brown wings, satin white underparts, a black crown, dark olive-green feet and, during flight, prominent white patches are visible on its wings. This grebe has a white face with a red eye, and a black line from the base of the bill to the eye. The adult female is slightly smaller than the adult male. Juveniles have a striped black and white head and neck.

The Great Crested Grebe has been recorded in all Australian states and territories. It is found in coastal Queensland, throughout New South Wales, coastal South Australia, coastal and south-west Western Australia, and the Northern Territory.

Favouring large deep open bodies of freshwater, the Great Crested Grebe is most commonly found inhabiting rivers, lagoons, lakes, swamps, reservoirs, saltfields, estuaries and bays.

The Great Crested Grebe feeds on fish, caught by diving in clear water. When diving underwater, this grebe is propelled by its feet alone.

The Great Crested Grebe is monogamous, and pair-bonds are maintained throughout the year. The nest is constructed from a mass of dead water-plants, weeds and mud, usually attached to reeds, fallen or drooping brances or a submerged stump, and is found on or near the vegetated margins of large open waters, among reeds, water ribbons, Gahnia tussocks and Melaleuca thickets. Both parents incubate the eggs and tend to the young.

The Great Crested Grebe is threatened by a reduction of breeding habitat (natural freshwater wetlands) through altered drainage, increased salinity, clearing, grazing, altered fire regimes and the extraction of ground-water.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Wednesday 17th July, 2013


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