The Least Grebe
An Educational feature of the Wildfowl Trust
Text and Photograhs by Rishi Goordial- Trust Member
There are about 22 species of Grebes worldwide.
The Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus) is an aquatic bird and is the smallest member of the grebe family in the Americas. Its length is between 8.3–10.6 in. Spending most of their time on water, Grebes can be found on freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes. On one of the dams that perimeter the Trust we are very fortunate to have active, breeding Least Grebes for a couple years now.
Small and plump, with a fairly short, sharp-pointed bill and bright yellow eyes, it typically appears quite dark /sooty all over. The breeding adult is brownish grey above with a darker blackish crown and throat while the immature are paler and greyer with a black striped head and dull eyes.
A Juvenile Least Grebe
Grebes have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. Although they can run for a short distance, they are prone to falling over, since their legs are set well back on their body.
The Grebe’s diet consists of aquatic life, including small fishes, crustaceans, frogs and aquatic insects. It pursues much of its prey under water. During active feeding, it spends an average of 12 seconds beneath the surface on each dive. They also respond to danger by diving rather than flying.
Least Grebe feeding under water showing lobed toes
Each pair builds a compact floating nest of vegetation with a variety of aquatic weeds which is anchored to rooted plants in still open water as deep as 5 ft. The female lays three to six white eggs. Both adults incubate the eggs, which hatch after 21 days. The striped young are sometimes carried on the adult's back.
Three Juveniles With One Adult