Grebes are an interesting family of birds.  The Horned Grebe is the most colorful grebe but for some reason the Red-necked is my favorite.  Maybe because it is the only North American grebe species I have yet to see.

Red-necked Grebes are primarily a coastal species during the winter. In the east they can be found from North Carolina to Canada. Along the west coast they can be found from California to Alaska. There are isolated inland reports during the winter.

Nesting occurs along the U.S. and Canadian border, large parts of western Canada and Alaska.

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe with adult feeding young.

Red-necked Grebes are known for the wide variety of elaborate courtship displays. The grebes pair-up before returning to their nesting grounds so lucky observers may get to observe the displays in the birds’ winter homes.

Red-necked Grebe displaying.

Displaying Red-necked Grebes.

The nests are placed in a variety of locations; from well-made floating nests in open water to nests nestled in reeds and brush that line the margins of lakes. Generally 4 to 5 bluish-white eggs are laid.  Storms can produce waves which destroy many Red-necked Grebe nests and eggs.

Shy around humans, Red-necked Grebes are very territorial, not only against other Red-necked Grebes but also against other water birds. A variety of chases and attacks are used, including an underwater attack in which the grebe swims underneath the intruder and jabs the intruders underside with its bill. Ouch!

Red-necked Grebe guarding nest.

Red-necked Grebe guarding nest.

Red-necked Grebes feed on fish with their swift dives. Their feet are positioned well back on the body, great for swimming but makes for clumsy walking.  When disturbed they will dive instead of flying away.

Outside the U.S. and Canada, Red-necked Grebes are found in Europe and eastern Siberia.  Their population appears to be stable.

Red-necked Grebe.

Red-necked Grebe love.

All images © Alan and Elaine Wilson.

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