|Conservation status||Population status not well known, but may have declined in recent decades. Vulnerable to pollution in coastal wintering areas.|
|Habitat||Lakes, ponds; in winter, salt water. Summer: on freshwater lakes or large ponds having some marsh vegetation, surrounded by prairie, northern forest, or sometimes tundra. Winter: mostly on ocean, on protected bays but also miles offshore at times; also a few on some large lakes.|
Forages while swimming underwater, or while swimming on surface with head submerged. Also takes items (such as insects) from on or above water's surface, or from waterside plants.
4-5, sometimes 2-6. Bluish-white or very pale buff, becoming nest-stained brown. Both sexes incubate, 20-23 days. Young: Are able to swim shortly after hatching; are fed by both parents, and may ride on parents' backs. Age at first flight not well known, may be 10 weeks in some cases. Usually 1 brood per year, rarely 2.
Are able to swim shortly after hatching; are fed by both parents, and may ride on parents' backs. Age at first flight not well known, may be 10 weeks in some cases. Usually 1 brood per year, rarely 2.
Mostly insects and fish. Diet varies with season. May feed mainly on small fish in winter on coastal waters; in summer on marshes and ponds, feeds mainly on insects. Also eats crustaceans, mollusks, tadpoles, nereid worms, very small amounts of plant matter. Like other grebes, may eat feathers.
Courtship displays complex, with loud calls, raising of crest. Members of pair may face each other and rise partly out of water, chest to chest; sit close together while turning heads from side to side; bring up bits of weed from underwater and perform ritual dance while holding weeds. Nest: Site is in shallow water among marsh vegetation. Nest (built by both sexes) is a floating mass of plant material, with a definite depression at the top, anchored to standing plants.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migration over land seems to be mostly at night, although migrates off coastlines during day. Apparently some normally winter on Great Lakes; during extremely harsh winters, these may be driven out when lakes freeze over.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsUsually silent. On breeding grounds, a variety of squeaks, growls, and wailing calls.
Learn more about this sound collection.