RED-NECKED GREBE(Podiceps grisegena) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Red-necked Grebe is a water bird. Breeding adults have a black cap with a small crest, light grey throat and cheeks, and a dark red neck (hence the name). The upper parts are dark grey and the under parts white. The wing secondaries are white. The straight, pointed bill is black on top and yellow under. The lobed feet are black. Non-breeding adults have a washed out grey neck and less black on the bill. Both sexes are similar.   The young chicks’ head has black and white stripes and their body is grey. Their bill is yellow. They have a reddish spot between the eye and the bill. Juveniles still have the head stripes but they are less pronounced, and their body is grey brown. Adults measure about 45 cm (18 inches) long.
NAME: The English name ‘Grebe’ might come from a Breton word that means ‘crest’. The Latin genus name ‘Podiceps’ means ‘rump’ and ‘foot’, and refers to the placement of the birds’ feet near the rump. The Latin species name ‘grisegena’ means ‘grey cheeks’.
HABITAT: Shallow water such as lakes, marshes, ponds in forested areas.
DIET: Fish, crustaceans, insects and molluscs. Grebes dive from the surface to reach their prey.  They also eat their own feathers and even feed them to their chicks, but the reason for this is unknown.
NESTING: The red-necked grebe builds its nest on a floating platform on shallow inland lakes or ponds, with lots of vegetation that provides shelter. Between two to eight light blue eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents. Soon after hatching the chicks climb on their parents backs. Sometimes the parents leave the nest at night, possibly as a precaution from predators.
DISTRIBUTION:  The red-necked grebe has a widespread distribution around the northern hemisphere. Its breeding range covers the western half of Canada except the Rockies, Alaska, eastern Europe and parts of western and eastern Asia. For the winter this grebe will migrate to the coasts of North America and the Great Lakes, to western Europe and coastal Asia and Japan. Some vagrants have even made it to Hawaii. (See note below on bird vagrancy.)
Distribution map:
ON PEI: The red-necked grebe does not breed on Prince Edward Island. Sightings of this bird species on the island vary depending on the seasons.
CONSERVATION: Globally the red-necked grebe is not considered at risk, but locally there are some populations under pressure. For example in Wisconsin it is listed as ‘endangered’ in some places. Threats include ingested contaminated prey, thinning of egg shells and habitat loss.
NOTES:  The feet position at the back allows these birds to swim easily, but they are not good walkers on the ground.  Predators include raccoons, crows and birds of prey. This grebe will dive to avoid them.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Horned Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe
REFERENCES: (New Hampshire PBS)

Red-necked Grebes in courtship display – Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage, AK – July 12, 2005 – © Donna Dewhurst, USFWS
Red-necked grebes in courtship
Donna Dewhurst, USFWS
Red-necked grebe with chicks
on back, USFWS
Red-necked Grebe chick – Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage, AK – Aug. 2008 – Laurel F.
Red-necked grebe chick, by Laurel F.