Photo: Vivek Khanzode/Audubon Photography Awards

Clark's Grebe

Aechmophorus clarkii

Described to science in 1858, Clark's Grebe was soon dismissed as a mere variant of Western Grebe, and thereafter was ignored for over a century. Studies in the 1970s and 1980s showed that Western and Clark's, though extremely similar, are actually two distinct species. Minor differences in face pattern, bill color, and voice seem to be enough to prevent the two from interbreeding most of the time, even where they nest in mixed colonies. Apparent hybrids have been found, but they are a minority of the population. Although Clark's may be found with Western Grebes at all seasons, it tends to associate more with its own kind. In almost all aspects of behavior that have been studied, Clark's Grebe seems identical to Western Grebe. In one study on lakes in Oregon, Clark's tended to feed farther from shore and in deeper water.
Family Grebes
Described to science in 1858, Clark's Grebe was soon dismissed as a mere variant of Western Grebe, and thereafter was ignored for over a century. Studies in the 1970s and 1980s showed that Western and Clark's, though extremely similar, are actually two distinct species. Minor differences in face pattern, bill color, and voice seem to be enough to prevent the two from interbreeding most of the time, even where they nest in mixed colonies. Apparent hybrids have been found, but they are a minority of the population. Although Clark's may be found with Western Grebes at all seasons, it tends to associate more with its own kind. In almost all aspects of behavior that have been studied, Clark's Grebe seems identical to Western Grebe. In one study on lakes in Oregon, Clark's tended to feed farther from shore and in deeper water.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
  • juvenile
  • adult



Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Download Our Bird Guide App

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A loud kr-r-rick, not doubled as in Western Grebe; heard most often on breeding grounds.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Grebes Duck-like Birds

Clark's Grebe

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
Zoom InOut

Explore Similar Birds