Least Grebe: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Least grebe facts which are interesting and fun.

The least grebe, Tachybaptus dominicus, is a bird of North America that belongs to the phylum Chordata and the order Podicipediformes family. It is the smallest of all the grebe species with a wide range of distribution on earth. Various habitat locations include South America, Central America, North America, and the Caribbean. However, the range rarely crosses southern Texas. This bird highly prefers wetland places with a significant amount of vegetation on the edges of water bodies for their habitats, as they are seabirds. The least grebe diet mainly includes insects and small vertebrates.

The dominicus bird possesses dark yellow eye color, black gray plumage, white under tail coverts, black bill, and a wing patch of white color which shows during flight. The throat is pale in winter but turns dark in summer. Breeding plumage is darker than the plumage of non-breeding birds. Both adults are similar. Though, the juveniles are darker with stripes on the head. They have a wingspan of 11 in (28 cm). This North American bird does not migrate and mostly spends its whole life in only one place.

If you enjoy this article, you may also want to check out other similar species, such as Australian pelican and palm warbler.

Least Grebe

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects, crustaceans, frogs, fish, spiders, and tadpoles

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

3-7 eggs

How much do they weigh?

4.0-6.3 oz (112-180 g)

How long are they?

8.3-10.6 in (21-27 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Gray, brown, black, and yellow

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Large fish species, turtles, raptors, bat falcon, and golden eagle

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Freshwater ponds, lakes, marshes, roadside ditches, and mangrove swamps


South America, Central and North America, Greater Antilles, Argentina, Costa Rica, Bahamas, Trinidad, and Tobago





Scientific Name

Tachybaptus dominicus





Least Grebe Interesting Facts

What type of animal is the least grebe?

The least grebe is a type of bird that is a similar species of ducks, aquatic birds and they belong to the order Podicipediformes family.

What class of animal does a least grebe belong to?

The least grebe, Tachybaptus dominicus, belongs to the member of Aves class of animals.

How many least grebes are there in the world?

The population size of least grebes is approximately 50,000, out of which a lot of them occur in the United States.

Where does a least grebe live?

This bird is the tiniest North American bird species of the new world, which prefers much of wetland habitats. It lives in coastal places of Southern Texas, Central America, California, Argentina, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Greater Antilles, the Rio Grande Valley, Mexico, Arizona, the West Indies, and Southern Florida. Their habitat has been found largely in North America and Texas.

What is a least grebe's habitat?

The least grebe is common in various brackish wetland habitats, such as lakes, mangrove swamps,  marshes, roadside ditches, freshwater ponds, sluggish streams, and rivers. In general, it prefers areas with water bodies and a considerable amount of overgrown vegetation, which give both foraging habitat and protection from predators. However, it may select tiny, temporary water bodies to breed like water traps on golf courses, to avoid predation of its chicks by big fish and turtles.

Who do least grebes live with?

Most of the time, the least grebes are seen alone or living in pairs, outside of the mating season, they sometimes congregate in flocks of 20 birds or more.

How long does a least grebe live?

The lifespan of the least grebe, Tachybaptus dominicus, is unknown. However, the other grebes, such as pied-billed grebe, live for about five years. The grebes in general are believed to have long lifespans.

How do they reproduce?

The least grebe birds breed throughout the year. Those living in tropical areas mostly breed during the rainy season, whereas those surviving in Texas mate all year round. Courtship displays involve males producing a loud, high-pitched call while swimming along with the upright head, sleeked plumage, and baggy flank feathers lifted above the water. Sometimes, both the males and females as pairs, also perform a rushing ceremony similar to other grebe species. Both sexes arise instantaneously in the water and move forward several feet, then decline to the water again. During breeding, adult pairs construct a dense floating nest made of decaying vegetation, especially various types of freshwater weeds. The nest might be attached to aquatic rooted plants in open water. The same nest can be used by a pair to raise their broods. Female least grebe lays three to seven eggs, which are white, pale blue, or green in the starting but turn brown because of moist nest material. Both parents incubate the eggs. After 21 days the eggs hatch. Sometimes, the adults carry them on their backs. The young babies can swim soon after hatching. They are feed by both males and females. During the first two weeks, the chicks may return to the nest, to sleep and rest. The age at the first flight of least grebe babies is also unknown.

What is their conservation status?

The grebes are endemic to various nations and are known to migrate to many others. Presently, the range and population size are large and stable enough to not worry about them. Therefore, the least grebe status of conservation has been listed among the Least Concern category. Earlier, the rating was Lower Risk, which degraded to Least Concern in the year 2004. They depend on freshwater wetlands, which means that they are always in danger of habitat loss, water quality, and drainage systems.

Least Grebe Fun Facts

What do Least Grebes look like?

This bird species belongs to the order Podicipediformes family and has many features different from other birds. Their length ranges between 8.3-10.6 in (21-27 cm) and weighs between 4.0-6.3 oz (112-180 g). Although, weights vary according to region, food availability, and subspecies type. These grebes are miniature in Panama, where males weigh roughly 4.5 oz (129 g) and females weigh 4.1 oz (116 g). They are bigger in the West Indies, where the average weight of both genders is between 5.7 oz (161 g) and 4.6 oz (133g). However, the size of Tachybaptus Dominicus is 4.3 -4.9 oz (122-139 g). This species is lighter and smaller among all the grebe species. Like other members, they cannot walk well because their legs are set away from the body. But, they are great divers and swimmers. The body is small and stout, with a sharp beak, black bill, and brilliant yellow eyes. They lack tail feathers. The breeding adult is steely gray with a dark crown, with a purple-gray sheen to the neck and face. Underparts are pale, while the chest is brown. During flight, it exhibits a white wing patch. Alternatively, the non-breeding adults are duller with a whitish throat and offspring are duller and grayer than matures. At every stage, the chestnut coloring on the neck is absent. These birds are often confused with the pied-billed grebe. However, the pied-billed grebe is larger, thicker billed, and browner than the least grebe. They have amazing eyes and a strong bill to forage for food.

Least grebe birds have yellow eyes, black bill along with brown feathers on their body.

How cute are they?

With black and white fluffy plumages, yellow eyes, and short size, the Tachybaptus dominicus look magnificent and cute, particularly when they swim in the water.

How do they communicate?

These birds of the wetlands communicate through metallic trilling calls, especially during the mating season. The adults produce a duet while flying in the air during the courtship displays.

How big is the least grebe?

The length lies between 8.3-10.6 in (21-27 cm), which is 15 times bigger than a red-headed finch.

How fast can a least grebe fly?

The speed of the least grebe in flight is unknown. But it is believed that they have the same flight speed as other duck species.

How much does a least grebe weigh?

The weight of this bird is 4.0-6.3 oz (112-180 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female least grebes do not have specific names.

What would you call a baby least grebe?

The juvenile least grebe is known as a dabchick.

What do they eat?

Least grebes prey and feed on insects and tiny vertebrates. They forage above the waterline to pick small insect larvae, frogs, tadpoles from vegetation or water bodies and swallow them immediately, which produces a plug in the digestive system that protects the stomach from sharp bones. For larger prey, they come to the surface of the water and soften them in the bill before swallowing. Some of their other prey include spiders, dragonflies, ants, insects, crayfish, and crabs.

Are they poisonous?

No, the Tachybaptus dominicus is a non-poisonous species of bird.

Would they make a good pet?

Some people keep them as pets because of their good temperament and beautiful appearance. However, it is quite expensive to raise them at home, and they also require lakes, ditches, and ponds to spend their time. So, it is uncommon to have them as pets.

Did you know...

Least grebes can conceal themselves under the water with only its bill exposing above the waterline.

These aquatic birds also favor Oxbow lakes for their habitat.

Are least grebes protected?

The least grebes are birds with a conservation status of Least Concern, which is why not much attention is given to their conservation yet.

How did least grebes get their name?

The least grebes got their name due to the fact that they are the smallest members of grebes family. However, their genus name, Tachybaptus, is a mixture of two Greek terms: 'takhus' means 'fast' and 'baptus' means 'diving'. Although, the specific name dominicus comes from the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola, which was earlier called Santo Domingo.

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 least auklet facts and crane facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable least grebe coloring pages.



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