The Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), is a member of the grebe family of water birds. It occurs on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. This species breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes across Europe, Asia, Africa, northern South America and the southwest and western United States. The North American subspecies, P. n. californicus is known as the Eared Grebe (or “eared diver”). These birds migrate in winter, mostly to the Pacific Coast where they range south to El Salvador and sometimes as far as Costa Rica.
The Black-necked Grebe is 12 to 14 inches long. The adult is unmistakable in summer with a black head and neck and yellow ear tufts. In winter, this small grebe is white with a poorly defined black cap, which distinguishes it from the crisper-looking Slavonian Grebe. Like all grebes, the Black-necked Grebe nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set very far back and it cannot walk well. Usually two eggs are laid, and the striped young are sometimes carried on the adult’s back.
The Black-necked Grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its prey underwater, eating mostly fish as well as aquatic insects and larvae. It prefers to escape danger by diving rather than flying, although it can easily rise from the water.
Photo By Marek Szczepanek