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Grebes

Slavonian grebe on calm loch

Image: Steve Round

Small to medium-sized water birds, characterised by their pointed bills (long and dagger-like in larger species), round bodies, tiny tails and legs set far back on the body.

The legs are flattened and the toes have broad, leaf-like lobes, so that the forward stroke underwater has minimum drag but the backward stroke can exert maximum pressure for forward movement. 

They are expert swimmers and divers but unable to walk on dry land. They build floating nests anchored to aquatic vegetation. Many other species are found almost worldwide.

Black-necked grebe

This small grebe has beautiful golden tufts of feathers on its face, contrasting with its black head and neck. Its steep forehead makes its head look 'peaked'. A rare breeding bird, it is also uncommo... More...

Black-necked grebe

Great crested grebe

A delightfully elegant waterbird with ornate head plumes which led to its being hunted for its feathers, almost leading to its extermination from the UK. They dive to feed and also to escape, preferri... More...

Great crested grebe

Little grebe

A small, dumpy grebe which often appears to have a 'fluffy' rear end. It readily dives when disturbed, surfacing unseen some distance away. In summer it has a bright chestnut throat and cheeks and a p... More...

Little grebe

Red-necked grebe

Like all grebes it is an expert swimmer and diver. In winter plumage it is similar to a great crested grebe but has has a thicker neck, and a stout dark bill with a yellow base. It has a brown body, a... More...

Red-necked grebe

Slavonian grebe

Arguably the most attractive of the UK's breeding grebes, with its golden ear tufts and trilling calls. It looks similar to the black-necked grebe in winter but has whiter cheeks which almost meet at ... More...

Slavonian grebe