Great Crested Grebe: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Great crested grebe facts about the bird species from genus Podiceps known for its head plumes

The great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) is a species of aquatic diving birds belonging to the Podicipedidae Family. This species is definitely a beautiful one with its vibrantly shaded head and cheek plume, which these birds develop during the breeding seasons. Infamous for its elaborate mating rituals, great crested grebes (Podicipediformes order, family Podicipedidae, genus Podiceps) possess an anatomical structure designed to facilitate their diving and hunting. In contrast to most of the other members of the grebe clan, the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) are comparatively more white toned, with pink bills and white plume aligning their eyes.

Find out more about these great divers by reading further! Afterward, do check our other articles on Muscovy duck facts and duck facts as well.  

Great crested grebe facts

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Fish, Amphibians, Insects, Small Crustaceans

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-9 eggs

How much do they weigh?

2.0-3.3 lb (0.9-1.5 kg)

How long are they?

18–20 in (45.7-50.8 cm)

How tall are they?

35-37 in (88.9-93.9 cm) (wingspan)

What do they look like?

Slender Neck, Streamlined Body, Cheek Fans, Head Crest, Lobed Toes, Plume on Their Head

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Habitat Loss, Hunting, Predators

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Aquatic Habitats, Freshwater Water Bodies, Ponds, Lakes


Europe and Asia





Scientific Name

Podiceps Cristatus





Great Crested Grebe Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a great crested grebe?

The great crested grebe, scientifically known as Podiceps cristatus, is a category of aquatic diving birds of the biological order Podicipediformes. These members of the birds' realms are the largest amongst its grebe clan, of the Old World.

What class of animal does a great crested grebe belong to?

The great crested grebe (scientific name Podiceps cristatus) is a member of class Aves; that is, the biological classification of organisms characterized by the presence of forelimbs modified into wings, and their body is covered with feathers.

How many great crested grebes are there in the world?

According to the IUCN, the present population of great crested grebes (Podicipedidae family, genus Podiceps, and order Podicipediformes ) is categorized as of Least Concern on the conservation scale with around 915,000-1,400,000 individuals. As of now the population of great crested grebes is quite stable.

Where does a great crested grebe live?

The great crested grebe's ideal habitat includes aquatic territories. A significant population of these avians can be located along the geographical regions of Europe, southern and eastern Africa, Australia, central Asia (about as far east as China), and New Zealand. The nest is constructed by the male great crested grebe and the female great crested grebe together. The nest can be prepared from aquatic plant matter as a floating platform in freshwater bodies.

What is a great crested grebe's habitat?

The primary great crested grebe's habitat includes aquatic niches. The abode of these avians ranges from artificial water bodies such as large ponds surrounded by aquatic vegetation, swamps, slow-flowing rivers, lakes, lagoons, shallows, open water bodies, and bays.

Who do great crested grebes live with?

In general, great crested grebes often live by themselves; they are a group of solitary birds. However, occasionally loose colonies are observed. Whereas during the breeding season they are known to live in pairs.

How long does a great crested grebe?

Their average lifespan is between 10-15 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The great crested grebe breeding season begins with males courting the potential female in an elaborate mating ritual. During the great crested grebe courtship rituals, the male and the female approach each other carrying weeds and align themselves by facing each other. Generally, a single breeding season is reported in these birds and like their relative grebes, they also nest along the water edges. Great crested grebes are monogamous. On average, the females give rise to an average clutch size of three to four great crested grebe eggs that are incubated for a time span of 25-31 days. After the incubation period is over, great crested grebe chicks are born who stay in the nest till they are ready to fledge. Chicks have black and white stripes on the head and are capable of swimming as soon as they are born.

What is their conservation status?

As of now, according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, the great crested grebe has been categorized under the conservation status of Least Concern.

Great Crested Grebe Fun Facts

What do great crested grebes look like?

Great crested grebes are elegant water birds that are known for their beautiful head plumes.

The males, as well as female great crested grebe, have a common black-toned plume of crest adorning their crowns. Downwards extending cheek fans (in shades of orange with black tips) are also sported on these birds. The plumage along the neck, back, and flanks of Podiceps cristatus is embellished in mottled brown shades patterned with black tones here and there. The underbelly of these avians is white-toned, whereas the nape is generally dark brown in color. The members of the great crested grebe species are known to shed their orange plumes along with their heads following the breeding season.

How cute are they?

On a scale of one to five, the great crested grebe can easily secure a four for its elegant looks.

How do they communicate?

The members of the great crested grebe species generally use visual, vocal, and acoustic cues for communication and perception. For hunting, it is generally the visual senses that are used. Whereas during breeding seasons they emit calls to communicate with their mates.

How big is a great crested grebe?

The great crested grebe has a body dimension that includes a wingspan of about  35-37 in (88.9-93.9 cm), length of 18–20 in (45.7-50.8 cm), and weight ranging between 2.0-3.3 lb (0.9-1.5 kg), the Podiceps cristatus is recognized as the largest member of the grebe family.

How fast can a great crested grebe fly?

Their body is designed to swim at quick speeds to catch their swimming prey easily. The feet of these birds are placed towards the back, allowing the great crested grebe to swim at excellent speeds. This bird can swim even underwater at an impressive pace.

How much does a great crested grebe weigh?

The weight of great crested grebe ranges between 2.0-3.3 lb (0.9-1.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males are referred to as male great crested grebe while the females are referred to as female great crested grebe.

What would you call a baby great crested grebe?

Great crested grebe babies are referred to as chicks. The heads of the chicks are striped black and white but these markings are lost when the chicks become adults.

What do they eat?

Diets of great crested grebes include fish species present in lakes such as roach, smelt, perch, larval as well as adult amphibians, insects, small crustaceans, invertebrate larvae, newts, and mollusks.

Are they friendly?

In general, great crested grebes are calm species residing in lakes and freshwater bodies. Though these birds may show aggressive behavior during the breeding season while protecting their nests. As for their behavior around human beings, the great crested grebe is mostly unperturbed, however aligning to the general characteristic of most birds, great crested grebes may become aggressive if provoked.

Would they make a good pet?

Petting a great grebe depends on the experience of a pet keeper or breeder. These grebe birds usually require a large habitat to live in, something which they can’t find in an enclosed place.

Did you know...

These birds are known to eat their own feathers! The great crested grebe does so in order to create pellets that facilitate the emission of parasites in their gastric system.

The great crested grebe recipe is popular amongst people who love to feast on the flesh of various game bird species.

Finland's great crested grebe range extends as far as Southern Lapland with the breeding population being estimated at around 30,000–48,000 pairs.

What is the scientific name for great crested grebe?

Initially, the great crested grebe was scientifically known as Colymbus cristatus, by naturalist Carl Linnaeus. However, later on, it was allocated the scientific designation of Podiceps cristatus as it was categorized under the genus Podiceps.

How many times does the great crested grebe lay eggs?

Generally, they breed once a year giving rise to a clutch size of about three to four eggs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Radjah shelduck facts and harlequin duck facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Great Crested Grebe coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.