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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 18, 2021

Little Grebe: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Little grebe facts are for bird lovers.

Often confused for its duck-like appearance, the little grebe bird or dabchick is a member of the Podicipedidae family, Tachybaptus genus. So far 20 species of grebes have been identified across the globe.

Grebes are quite appealing dancers! Males and females participate in a weed dance and caress their partners adoringly with the available aquatic vegetation around them, preening and stroking each other gently with their beaks. The plumage around the bird's neck, cheeks, and sides acquire a dark rufous coloration during the breeding season. If you're lucky enough, you can find a pair of grebes in the rainy season. Also, these birds give out the distinct trilling 'weet-weet-weet' calls.

One of the major threats resulting in the decline of the bird population is the destruction of their wetland habitat. Human activities like unrestrained construction, pollution, and deforestation leading to climate change can also offer a great blow to aquatic biodiversity. Avian influenza might be another reason that could lead to the grebe population reaching a vulnerable status.

For more relatable content, check out these common swift facts and canyon wren facts for kids.

Little Grebe Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a little grebe?

A little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) is a bird belonging to the Podicipedidae family.

What class of animal does a little grebe belong to?

Littles grebes are a member of the Aves class of Podicipediformes order.

How many little grebes are there in the world?

The European population of these little birds stands at 258,000-417,000 mature individuals. The world population is estimated at around 610,000-3,500,000. Despite being plentiful, the little grebe population has depicted a significant decline in recent years. Proper measures must be adopted to curb the ill effects of human activities that might damage aquatic biodiversity.

Where does a little grebe live?

A large population of little grebes can be traced throughout Eurasia, New Guinea, Malaysia, and Africa. The species can also be found in Ranthambhore National Park, India.

What is a little grebe's habitat?

The habitat of the dabchick comprises rivers, freshwater lakes, rice fields, ponds, oases, springs, saline lagoons, and large artificial water storage.

Who do little grebes live with?

Little grebes can be found in small groups while they can also dwell solitarily.

How long does a little grebe live?

Generally, this species enjoys an average lifespan of about 10-15 years in the wilderness.

How do they reproduce?

These birds are monogamous and the rainy season is the ideal breeding season for this species. Two to three broods are produced after every breeding period. The nests are constructed near water edges as these birds cannot walk steadily. Females lay three and six eggs and both partners engage in incubation for 20-21 days. Fledging occurs within 44-48 days and a little grebe juvenile matures in a year.

What is their conservation status?

Currently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has classified little grebes under a status of Least Concern due to their abundance throughout their geographical range. Unlike these birds, the horned grebe is currently Vulnerable.

Little Grebe Fun Facts

What do little grebes look like?

The bird comes with a compact body primarily with a gray and black hue with a rich rufous-colored neck, and gray-brown underparts. They possess a puffy backside, pointed bill, and rounded head. Their legs are located on the backside of their body. Juvenile birds have a brownish-gray color, yellow bill with white spots on cheeks and sides of the neck. The wingspan is 16.5 in (42 cm). During the breeding season, their feathers acquire a darker shade.

Little grebe facts are about these eye-catching aquatic birds.

How cute are they?

Have you seen a little grebe chick moving around all puffed up? A dabchick is just too adorable to be ignored.

How do they communicate?

Although small in size, a little grebe call is loud enough to be heard from a distance. Sounds like 'kuk-kuk-kuk' are common. This bird also produces several rhythmic sounds like 'coos', bleating whoops, gulping, chuckling, chattering, and rippling. Gestures form an essential part of communication.

How big is a little grebe?

It's nor worth giving a little grebe size comparison with other grebes because this species is known to be one of the smallest among all European grebe species. The bird measures only about 10.6 in (27 cm). The red-necked grebe measures around 16.9-22 in (43-56 cm).

Can a little grebe fly?

This bird species is known to fly occasionally while exploring or colonizing new regions. The upper elevation limit is 3,280 ft (1,000 m). Although during flight it can cover great distances, the bird prefers to swim than fly.

How much does a little grebe weigh?

The species is quite lightweight with an average weight of 0.3-0.4 lb (0.17-0.19 kg). Now imagine how little a juvenile little grebe would weigh.

What are the male and female names of the species?

No distinct names have been given to male and female members of the grebe family.

What would you call a baby little grebe?

A baby grebe is commonly named a grebette or chick.

What do they eat?

Little grebes are carnivorous and they feed on amphibians, crustaceans, insects, small fish, and mollusks. It would not be wrong to label them as insectivorous or piscivorous too since they indulge in a diet comprising insects and different fish species.

Are they dangerous?

We cannot say if little grebe birds are completely gentle as they hunt pretty aggressively. They can be hostile towards other members while defending eggs, mates, and nests. However, the bird doesn't generally display any signs of violence towards humans.

Would they make a good pet?

No, grebes cannot thrive in captivity and they fail to adjust in manmade environments. Normally, grebes are not kept as pets even though they are harmless birds. They must not be estranged from their natural habitat.

Did you know...

Did you know that a group of grebes is called a water dance? Isn't it cool?

Least grebes are the smallest grebe members and they're even smaller than little grebes.

The scientific name Tachybaptus ruficollis has been derived from the Greek and Latin language. The term 'takhos' translates as 'fast' while 'bapto' means 'to sink under'. The Latin word 'rufus' stands for 'reddish' and 'collus' implies 'neck'. The name delivers perfect identification for this species combining both its behavior and appearance.

The eyes of an eared grebe are red and are most probably used to lure the opposite sex for copulation.

How long can a little grebe stay underwater?

Grebes can normally remain for a maximum of 30 seconds underwater but little grebes can last underwater for only about 13-15 seconds. They are aquatic birds that have inherited certain characteristics of ducks and loons. Just like loons, they can swim and dive underwater. The species dives underwater while foraging for fish.

Is the little grebe a duck?

If you think that the little grebe is a duck then you are mistaken. Grebes of genus Tachybaptus draw close resemblance to ducks but the most significant distinguishing factor is that grebes possess lobed toes, unlike webbed-feet ducks. Their toes help them to navigate through dense aquatic vegetation.

For a better distinction, let's dig into the little grebe vs mallard size. The average length of a mallard bird ranges from 19.7-25.6 in (50 – 65 cm) while it weighs about 1.6-3.5 lb (0.72 – 1.6 kg). On the other hand, a little grebe measures approximately 10.6 in (27 cm) and weighs around 0.3-0.4 lb (0.17-0.19 kg).

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 black cuckoo facts and Anna's hummingbird facts pages.

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

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