Bird GuideGrebesClark's Grebe

At a Glance

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.
Duck-like Birds, Grebes
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Freshwater Wetlands, Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers, Saltwater Wetlands
California, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas
Direct Flight, Rapid Wingbeats

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps


22-29" (56-74 cm). Very much like Western Grebe, but white on face extends narrowly above eye; bill brighter orange-yellow. Voice also differs. In winter, some birds appear to have intermediate face patterns, may not be safely identified.
About the size of a Heron, About the size of a Mallard or Herring Gull
Black, Red, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Long, Tapered
Tail Shape

Songs and Calls

A loud kr-r-rick, not doubled as in Western Grebe; heard most often on breeding grounds.
Call Pattern
Call Type
Rattle, Trill

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Clark's Grebe. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Clark's Grebe

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.