Great Crested Grebe

Podiceps cristatus infuscatus

The Great Crested Grebe is a relatively big (up to 1.5kg, 45-56cm long, with a wingspan of up to 73cm) waterbird inhabiting large bodies of open water (mostly dams, lakes and pans, and rarely rivermouths and protected bays) where they feed on fish, crustaceans, amphibians and aquatic insects pursued underwater.

Locally, breeding seems to occur at any time of the year, on platforms of floating plant material anchored to emergent plants such as reeds or in flooded thickets. These birds are well known for their elaborate mating display. Clutches usually contain only two eggs, and the chicks are often carried on the parents’ backs.

Great Crested Grebes have a wide distribution across Europe, Asia and Australasia, with a limited occurrence in Southern and East Africa. The IUCN estimates their population at as many as 1.4-million and considers the species of Least Concern. In years past this grebe suffered greatly due to hunting for the plume trade, but today gill-netting is a more serious threat to their survival, especially so in East Africa where they are now rare. Great Crested Grebes are locally common residents in South Africa and occur mostly on the central Highveld (Gauteng, Northwest, Mpumalanga and Free State Provinces) and the Eastern and Western Cape.


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