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



Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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  • 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.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Clark's Grebe

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

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.

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