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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 13, 2021

Did You Know? 15 Incredible Titicaca Grebe Facts

One of the interesting Titicaca grebe facts is that it is rarely seen peering from the surface of the water.

 The Titicaca grebe is a bird endemic to the continent of South America. Specifically, it is restricted to Lake Titicaca and Lake Uru-Uru in the Andes mountain ranges and the Altiplano plateau. These native Titicaca grebe territories fall in the countries of Bolivia and Peru. The Titicaca grebe is flightless and has short wings, which is why it is referred to as the Titicaca flightless grebe or the short-winged grebe. It is also named zampullín del Titicaca by the locals. This bird occurs in open water with ample floating vegetation at high elevations. Although it is a flightless grebe, when faced with danger, it does not hide in vegetation, but paddles into the open waters of the lakes, covering considerable distances. The Titicaca grebe mainly feeds on pupfish of the Orestias genus. The Titicaca grebe is threatened by water-level fluctuation in the lakes, the introduction of competing species of fish, fishing nets, and chemical contamination from mining. There are only 250-999 individuals left of the Titicaca species, which is why they've been classified as Endangered by the IUCN.

For more relatable content, check out these eared grebe facts and western grebe facts for kids.

Titicaca Grebe Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Titicaca grebe?

The Titicaca grebe (Rollandia microptera) is a bird.

What class of animal does a Titicaca grebe belong to?

The Titicaca grebe (Rollandia microptera) belongs to the Aves class of animals.

How many Titicaca grebes are there in the world?

According to the IUCN assessment, there are only 250-999 Titicaca grebes left alive in the world.

Where does a Titicaca grebe live?

The Titicaca grebe (Rollandia microptera) is endemic to Lake Titicaca and Lake Uru-Uru. These lakes are in the South American countries of Peru and Bolivia, more specifically southeast Peru and western Bolivia. The Titicaca grebe range is restricted to the Altiplano plateau and the Andes highland range.

What is a Titicaca grebe's habitat?

The usual Titicaca grebe habitat is large lakes at high elevations. Open and deep waters with floating vegetation and reedbeds are essential to the Titicaca grebe. It likes nesting mostly among patches of the Scirpus totora bulrush or among waterweeds that float in lakes. The Titicaca grebe is found at elevations of 12,139-12,467.2 ft (3,700-3,800 m).

Who does the Titicaca grebe live with?

Titicaca grebes are possibly social birds. They do aggregate at breeding and nesting habitats together but this may be due to a shortage of suitable sites.

How long does a Titicaca grebe live?

The data on the exact lifespan of a Titicaca grebe (Rollandia microptera) is not known but their lifespan may range between 10-15 years considering the longevity of other grebe species. Also, the generation time length for Titicaca grebes is around five years.

How do they reproduce?

Titicaca grebes reproduce by mating and laying eggs. They tend to be territorial while breeding and are known to perform courtship displays that are rather elaborate and done with several birds. The display is mostly vocal and takes place in duets. Due to the stable conditions and climate of Lake Titicaca, Titicaca grebes can breed throughout the year, producing multiple broods. The breeding peaks in November and December.

The Titicaca grebe pair may breed in solitude, sometimes in loose colonies, and occasionally co-operatively. This is because the big young chick of one brood may help out in feeding the youngest chicks.

The nest of the Titicaca flightless grebe is made with vegetation on a floating platform. Usually, two eggs are laid by the female, sometimes in the same nest as previous clutches. The newborn chicks tend to have gray down feathers, pale underparts, and white and rufous stripes on the neck and head.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Titicaca grebe (Rollandia microptera) species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is Endangered.

Titicaca Grebe Fun Facts

What does the Titicaca grebe look like?

In breeding plumage, the Titicaca flightless grebe adult has upperparts that are blackish-brown. The primaries tend to be pale gray-brown in color and the secondaries have a significant amount of white. The underparts, throat, chin, breast, and a big portion of the fore neck are white. The flanks are blackish-brown and dark and have a varying amount of the color chestnut. The flanks' rear is chestnut. The belly tends to be whitish and also has some pale chestnut spots. The undertail coverts of the Titicaca flightless grebe are white. The underwing coverts are not exactly white but whitish. The crown on the head is blackish to dark brown. The elongated feathers are dark and blacker on the lores and the forehead. Multiple dark and narrow lines extend from the eyes to the lower face and the white ear coverts. The upper hind-neck and the nape are rufous-brown, but look darker on the lower and middle hindneck, also on the breast sides and lower fore neck. The bill is heavy and orange-yellow, and also has a blackish culmen and blackish to reddish cutting edges. The dark-brown eyes are surrounded by yellow, narrow eyerings. The lobbed feet and legs are dark-gray to orange-yellow.

In non-breeding plumage, the Titicaca flightless grebe is duller and has upperparts that are gray-brown. There is also some whitish and ochre-brown coloration in the flanks. The crown is fulvous-brown to dusk and a whitish, narrow line can be seen at the upper mandible's base, which extends to the lores. The hind neck, nape, and breast sides are sandy-gray to dull brown. The non-breeding adult has less distinct dark lines beyond the eyes. The bill is more yellow-orange and paler.

Male and female Titicaca grebes look similar. The juvenile looks like the non-breeding mature grebe but overall grayer and duller with more pale areas. The fore-neck, underparts, breast, and lower face of the juveniles are whitish. The bill is also duller and the feet and legs have a greenish tinge.

The Titicaca grebe has a heavy, orange-yellow bill with a blackish culmen and black-red cutting edges.

How cute are they?

Titicaca grebes are cute and beautiful birds. The first thing that is noticed about them is their head and crown feathers that look like thorny crowns. Their bright orange bills look like cherries on top. They have gorgeous white underparts that contrast with darker upperparts. It is quite sad that these water-dwelling birds are Endangered.

How do they communicate?

Titicaca grebes communicate via call and striking visual displays. The Titicaca grebe call sound is 'gyak' and a louder 'gyrrk', which is given to make other birds know they are there. If a territorial dispute breaks out, loud squeals are given in length. A growing 'hrrr' is given, intended as a threat.

How big is a Titicaca grebe?

The Titicaca flightless grebe length is 11-17.7 in (28-45 cm), making it four times bigger than verdins and five to eight times bigger than bee hummingbirds.

How fast can a Titicaca grebe fly?

The Titicaca grebe bird is flightless and sedentary. It is known for running over water while performing wingbeats. It has small wings but can cover quite a distance, especially when under alarm. When threatened, it flees over water and does not hide in vegetation. The Titicaca grebe is also a decent diver and can spend quite some time under the water to search for fish.

How much does a Titicaca grebe weigh?

A Titicaca flightless grebe weighs 21.2-22.4 oz (600-635 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the Titicaca grebe species are not referred to by specific names. You can technically call them cocks and hens, like other birds.

What would you call a baby Titicaca grebe?

A baby Titicaca grebe is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Titicaca grebes mostly feed on pupfish of the Orestias genus. They also feed on aquatic insects and arthropods sometimes.

Are they dangerous?

No, Titicaca grebes are not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these wild birds would most definitely not make good pets. They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN and must be protected.

Did you know...

The Birdlife International study of 2006 states that the population size and the distribution range of the Titicaca grebe were bigger than today. Other lakes like the Umayo and Arapo Lakes had permanent colonies of the Titicaca grebe. Also according to the Birdlife International study, the Titicaca grebe is sometimes also considered as a monotypic genus called Centropelma, with locals referring to it with the name zampullín del Titicaca.

The white-tufted grebe species also occurs in a similar part of the world as the Titicaca grebe species. The distribution range of the white-tufted grebe includes lakes in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Peru, and the Falklands. Apart from lakes, the white-tufted grebe also occurs in ponds, marshes, and sluggish streams.

The Titicaca grebe belongs to the Podicipediformes family and the Rollandia genus. Its binomial name, Rollandia microptera comes from the classification by Gould, 1868.

What is the other name of Titicaca grebes?

Other common names of the Endangered Titicaca grebe include the Titicaca flightless grebe and the short-winged grebe. The binomial name is Rollandia microptera. It also has a local name, zampullín del Titicaca.

How did Titicaca grebes get their name?

These Endangered grebes are native to Lake Titicaca in South America, at the border of Peru and Bolivia, which is why 'Titicaca' is in the name. 'Grebe' comes from the French 'grèbe' which translates to 'bird with webbed feet and downy plumage'.

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 red-necked grebe interesting facts and horned grebe surprising facts pages.

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

Second image by Tsirtalis

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