Eared Grebe Facts You Won't Believe!

Eared grebe facts are enjoyed by kids.

The eared grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), also commonly known as the black-necked grebe, is the most common species of the grebe family of water birds. They belong to the order Podicipediformes, family Podicipedidae, and class Aves. These birds are found throughout a large range that occurs in freshwater lakes. They move to their breeding colonies in the spring season and from there, molting migration occurs in the summer. Most of the birds molt at the end of the molt migration so that dark feathers appear before reaching their colonies. They winter either in parts of Asia and Africa or in America. In North America, these birds mostly populate the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Mono Lake in California. Eared grebes do not have many dissimilarities in appearance between the two genders. Until now, there are a large number of eared grebes that are found throughout their range however, they are gradually decreasing in number.

To know more about eared grebe, continue reading these amazing facts.  For similar content check out pileated woodpecker and Atlantic puffin facts too.

Eared Grebe

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Brine shrimp, fish, tadpoles, mollusks, insects, and crustaceans

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

7-25.9 oz (200-735 g)

How long are they?

11-13 in (28-34 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black or brown

Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Freshwater lakes


Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America





Scientific Name

Podiceps nigricollis





Eared Grebe Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an eared grebe?

The eared grebe is a type of bird.

What class of animal does an eared grebe belong to?

Eared grebes are water birds that belong to the order podicipediformes, family Podicipedidae and class Aves.

How many eared grebe are there in the world?

The entire range map of these birds is estimated to have a population of 3,900,000 to 4,200,000 individuals. The population trend of the grebe species is uncertain in Europe however the North American birds have increased by an insignificant number. They are prone to certain bird diseases which might cause a large-scale death event in their population. Such patterns of death are mostly observed in North America.

Where does an eared grebe live?

The range map of this grebe species covers a wide range inhabiting freshwater lakes or ponds of Europe, Asia, north of South America, and North America. They spend their winter in the eastern part of Africa, south and west Asia, and the Palearctic region. The winter habitat also extends to parts of South Africa. These birds strictly winter in the Gulf of California, Baja California, and the Salton Sea in North America. After breeding season, they migrate to salty lakes such as the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Mono Lake in California.

What is an eared grebe's habitat?

This species is found all over the world in different seasons. This bird covers a wide habitat range extending from freshwater lakes and ponds to marine habitats during winter or migration season. The non-breeding season nesting occurs in coastal estuaries and saline lakes.

Who do eared grebe live with?

This bird is a highly social one forming nest colonies in the breeding season and large flocks in wintering grounds or during migration.

How long does an eared grebe live?

The average lifespan of this bird ranges from 10 to 13 years.

How do they reproduce?

These birds return to nesting sites between June and July. An eared grebe breeds in shallow lakes and ponds, nesting either in colonies or in isolation. The nest is built by both males and females on floating vegetation. Pairing  mainly occurs between the flight stops during migration to the wintering grounds. The courtship will only occur  when the finally reach the breeding nests. A male bird follows an elaborate courtship display.  They puff their bodies and stroke their wings in such a way that their golden plumes are properly visible to attract females. They swim side by side in lakes turning their head towards each other and making simultaneous calls with their straight-held neck. They are monogamous. Eggs are laid in their nests from which the young emerge after an incubation period of two days.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN, these birds are considered as a species of Least Concern as they are found in abundance throughout most of their range map. However, these North American birds of the grebe family are threatened. Grebes have been identified by many conservation sites throughout their range.

Eared Grebe Fun Facts

What do eared grebes look like?

An eared grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) is a small waterbird with a small head and dark thin neck. The bill is also extremely thin and dark. In the breeding plumage, their feathers turn dark black or brown in the head, neck, and underparts. Golden plumes can also be spotted on both sides of its head during its breeding plumage. They have a dark red eye with yellow detailing. In the non-breeding plumage, the feather colors fade. Young birds resemble an adult's non-breeding plumage with a paler neck and throat. The thin bill of the bird differentiates it from other grebe species like horned grebes. The color of the bill turns darker during the breeding plumage.

An eared grebe spends most of its life in water.

How cute are they?

Grebes do not necessarily look attractive to humans and many other species of cuter birds do exist. They still play a great role in maintaining the balance in the ecosystem.

How do they communicate?

Grebes remain silent during most of their activities. The breeding and territorial calls are similar.

How big is an eared grebe?

The size of eared grebes range between 11-13 in (28-34 cm). They are smaller than another similar species called the horned grebe.

How fast can an eared grebe fly?

The flight of the bird is labored with stretched head and neck which helps to increase the speed of these grebes. However, their speed is not quantified yet. They are fast fliers, flying mostly due to migration and at night.

How much does an eared grebe weigh?

Eared grebes are lighter than horned grebes, their North American counterpart, and they weigh between 7-25.9 oz (200-735 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

A male bird is called a cock and a female bird is called a hen.

What would you call a baby eared grebe?

Young baby birds are referred to as chicks or nestlings.

What do they eat?

This bird feeds by diving its head into shallow water ponds or lakes and by plucking water creatures from the surface. Their common foods include fish, tadpoles, mollusks, insects, and crustaceans. When they reach the saline lakes during molting, they feed on brine shrimp. Juveniles are fed one at a time and they grab the food from the parent's beak. Like eared grebes, young grebes are also carnivores who feed on amphibians, mollusks, fish insects, and shrimps, prawns, and other crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

These birds are not very dangerous. They are social among themselves and do not attack unless threatened.

Would they make a good pet?

No, eared grebes are not meant to be domesticated. These gregarious species prefer to live in the wild with their mates rather than in captivity. There are little to no records of petting these birds so there is very restricted information about how they behave as pets.  

Did you know...

Eared grebes become flightless for around nine to 10 months in a year due to molting. They are clumsy on land because their legs are behind their bodies which makes it hard for eared grebes to fly. However, they are much better in the water than in the air and are able to run on water.

Do grebes dive?

All birds in the grebe species nest in lakes and ponds and dive underwater in search of food. They also dive underwater to hide from predators.

Why are eared grebe eyes red?

The feather color of grebes becomes dark during the breeding season for attracting the opposite gender. Along with that, they always have red eyes irrespective of the season. It is believed that these grebes have red-eyes to attract males for breeding.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including European robin or Amazon parrot.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our birds and eggs coloring pages.



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