Tachybaptus ruficollis capensis
The Little Grebe, or Dabchick, is a small (120-190g, 20-29cm long) resident waterbird, commonly seen in pairs or small groups on shallow wetlands, ponds, lakes, pans, dams and other quiet freshwater habitats (rarely in fast flowing rivers). They feed on aquatic prey, including fish, amphibians, crustaceans and insects, mostly caught under water, and in turn are preyed upon by large predatory fish.
In South Africa, Little Grebes breed mostly in the spring and summer months. Solitary pairs build a floating platform of plantmaterial, anchored to some underwater structure, for a nest. Before leaving the nest the parent bird always covers the eggs, of which there may be up to seven in a clutch, with some nest material. After hatching the chicks are often carried on their parents’ backs when swimming. At the end of the breeding season the Little Grebes moult and are then flightless for a short time.
Despite a declining population, estimated at as many as 3.5-million, the IUCN consders the Little Grebe of Least Concern, owing to a wide distribution across Africa, Asia and Europe. Little Grebes occur all over South Africa wherever suitable habitat is to be found.