Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) Photo by Denali National Park
How to identify
- The horned Grebe is a small duck-like water bird 31–28 cm long with a short, pointed bill.
- In breeding plumage, it has a black head with a distinctive patch of golden yellow feathers behind its eyed called “horns”. The front of its neck and upper breast are reddish.
- The plumage of the male tends to be brighter. Its winter plumage is black and white and characterized by a black crown and white cheeks.
- Chicks have dark stripes, which are particularly visible on the head and neck.
- Call is a nasal ‘aarrhh’ that descends in pitch.
Where to find
- The Horned Grebe is found across North America and Eurasia.
- Most of its North American breeding range is located in Canada, extending from the Yukon, through the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
A day in the life of a horned grebe
- Horned Grebes are awkward on land and spend the majority of their time swimming on floating on the water.
- They rest their neck on their back and tuck one foot under a wing and use the other foot to manoeuvre in the water.
- In order to be concealed from predators, they build cryptic, floating nests in mats of emergent vegetation.
- Nests are affixed to aquatic vegetation or exposed rocks, so that they don’t float away.
- Raising their young
- Parents construct nests on exposed rock or along shoreline.
- The nest is anchored to or built up over vegetation. The clutch size is three to five eggs, and they incubate for about 23 days. The young fledge at 63–77 days of age.
- Chicks are able to swim and dive immediately after hatching, but usually spend the majority of time on their parent’s backs during the first seven to 10 days. They nestle between their parent’s wings and ride along while the parents swim. They may even stay onboard during dives.
- They eat mostly aquatic invertebrates and fish, including carp and herring, as well as the odd salamander.
- Young are fed adult’s feathers, a behaviour unique to grebes.
Why they matter to us and how you can help
- What EALT is doing
- EALT protects wetland habitats important for horned grebes and other waterfowl. Horned grebes have been spotted at our Ministik.
- Protect their habitat
- Habitat loss is a major concern for biodiversity today. EALT protects wetland habitats suitable for horned grebes and other waterfowl.
- Horned grebes are a Species at Risk. Protecting their wetland habitats will help ensure their survival.
http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsumer/groups/lr/@mnr/@species/documents/document/276683.pdf http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=1045 Click here to return