March 26, 2018 – Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi)
Only discovered in 1974, these grebes are found in extreme southeastern South America. Diving to capture their prey, they feed on invertebrates, especially freshwater snails, but also various amphipods, arthropods, copepods, and insects. Their complex courtship displays involve elaborate coordinated movements and the presentation of nesting materials. Breeding in colonies of up to 130 pairs, they build their nests on floating vegetation, laying two eggs, but only raising a single chick. They are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN and have suffered an estimated 40 percent decline in their population since the late 1990s. The primary threats they face include climate change and introduced species, such as mink, salmon, and trout.
December 28, 2017 – Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)
These small grebes are found in a patchy range from southern Texas through Mexico, Central America, and South America to northern Argentina. They feed on aquatic insects, spiders, crustaceans, small fish, and tadpoles, picking them from the surface or diving to catch them underwater. Pairs build floating nests in shallow water from decaying plant matter anchored to aquatic plants. Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the chicks, which often ride on their parents’ backs.
October 1, 2017 – Great Grebe (Podiceps major)
These large grebes are found in parts of Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, as well as on the Falkland, South Georgia, and South Sandwich Islands. They eat mostly fish, along with some insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. Pairs build nests from aquatic plants, leaves, and stems, sometimes anchored to clumps of aquatic vegetation. Both parents incubate the eggs. The chicks are able to leave the nest and swim soon after hatching.
July 5, 2017 – Madagascar Grebe or Madagascar Little Grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii)
These small grebes are found only in Madagascar, on permanent and temporary bodies of fresh or sometimes brackish water. They eat aquatic insects, crustaceans, and sometimes small fish, diving, or plucking food from the water’s surface. Like other grebes, they also consume their own feathers. They build floating platform nests from aquatic plants, often among water lilies. They are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to changes in their wetland habitats, including conversion to rice fields and fish farms, predation on chicks and competition for food from introduced fish species, water pollution, and entanglement in gill-nets.
June 3, 2017 – Titicaca Grebe, Titicaca Flightless Grebe, or Short-winged Grebe (Rollandia microptera)
Found on freshwater lakes in southeastern Peru and western Bolivia, including Lake Titicaca, Poopó, and Uru-uru, these grebes cannot fly. The majority of their diet is fish, particularly pupfish species. Nesting solitarily or in loose colonies, they may lay eggs in any month, though November to December seems to be the peak of their nesting season. They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN due to a variety of threats, including gill-nets, chemical contamination, introduced fish species, hunting, threats to their breeding habitats, and disturbance by boats. Their current population is estimated at around 2,000 birds.
January 30, 2017 – Red-necked Grebe, Holboell’s Grebe, or Gray-cheeked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Found in western and central Canada and parts of the northern United States, these grebes breed on inland bodies of water and winter on the open ocean or large lakes. They eat fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, mollusks, and amphibians, diving under the water and capturing prey in their bills. Pairs perform complex courtship displays, swimming upright together and presenting green weeds to each other. Their nests are built on floating vegetation from plant materials. The chicks spend most of their time on a parent’s back for the first week or two of their lives.
September 16, 2016 – White-tufted Grebe or Rolland’s Grebe (Rollandia rolland)
These small grebes are found in western and southern South America. A subspecies found in the Falkland Islands is heavier and does not fly as well. They don’t dive as often as other grebes and tend to catch their fish and arthropod prey mostly near the surface of the water. Breeding around smaller inland bodies of water, like shallow ponds, temporary pools, and slow streams, they build floating nests in vegetation.