Podiceps cristatus - Great crested grebe:

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Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Ciconiiformes / Podicipedidae / Podiceps / Species
Alternative Names Fuut (Dutch), Grèbe huppé (French), Haubentaucher (German), Somormujo lavanco (Spanish), Skäggdopping (Swedish).

Crested Grebe, Southern Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus australis).

Description Weight:
  • 596-1490g.


  • 46-61cm

External Appearance:

  • Adult: Eye scarlet red with narrow inner rim orange, Bill grey sides, culmen dark horn, legs olive-green to green-yellow. Crown glossy black, short crest elongated into two tufts at sides of nape. Face white to pale buff, chin white, sides of upper neck chestnut, with black tips, upper hindneck glossy black, lower hindneck grey, upperparts brown-tinged black with grey feather edges. Flanks rufous and dusky mixed, foreneck and underparts white, tailtuft dorsally black, ventrally white and buff. Wings primaries dark brown-grey, secondaries white with grown-grey to brown-black pewter webs, upperwing coverts brown-grey, with marginal coverts white and inner webs greater coverts white.
  • Juvenile: Eye orange, bill paler sides than adult, legs dark brown, mottled. Crown dark grey, upperparts more grey than breeding adults, underparts white, sides of head retain patterning of chicks.
  • Chick: striped blackish and pale, underparts paler. Eye pale yellow, bill reddish base, black bar, white tip, legs slate grey, toe lobes pink edged.

(B1, B2).

Range and Habitat
  • Podiceps cristatus cristatus Palearctic, British Isles and southern Scandinavia eastwards.
  • Podiceps cristatus infuscatus eastern, southern and west-central Africa: scattered areas
  • Podiceps cristatus australis South-western and south-eastern Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand (South Island).

London: In the London Area, a "common breeding resident and winter visitor." Found scattered over a variety of sites, including in on the River Thames, at Buckingham Palace, breeding and wintering in Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens etc. (J322.65.w1)

Accidental to Iceland, Jordan, Azores.

Movements: Northern populations in particular migratory and dispersive, including moving to large water areas to moult and wintering south to Mediterranean and east to India, Myanmar, China.

Habitat: fresh or brackish water with sizeable areas of open water 0.5-5.0m deep for foraging, and fringed with vegetation. Disperse to coasts, estuaries and large lakes and reservoirs outside breeding season.

B1, B2, B19

Further Information
  • Food: Mainly fish, also insects, crustaceans, molluscs, amphibians. Insects and insect larvae, also molluscs, crustaceans, amphibians, small fish.
  • Feeding: Dive for food, also (less frequently) swimming with head submerged, and taking food from vegetation.
  • Breeding: Seasonal monogamous pair bond. Europe January to September, mainly April to June. Breed in tropical Africa all months (peak in or after rains)Australasia peak breeding season from November to March. Nests solitary, dispersed or in loose colonies, built by both sexes, from lake bottom or floating attached to vegetation, a platform of aquatic plants well concealed in vegetation. Lay 1-7 eggs (average 3-5), usually one brood, 25-31 days incubation by both parents, hatching asynchronous, precocious and semi-nidifugous. Both parents tend young, carried on back of one while other brings food (may be mainly insects initially but otherwise whole fish). Broods divided, part with each parent, one chick favoured particularly by each, after 4-6 weeks. Chicks feeding themselves by 8 weeks, but dependent to 10 weeks minimum, usually 13 weeks, favoured chicks fed longer. Fledging  71-79 days, sexual maturity two occasionally one year.
  • Breeding behaviour: Seasonal monogamous pair. Territorial while breeding.
  • Social behaviour: Often solitary outside breeding season, may be seen in temporary groups of upped 100 individuals.

(B1, B2)

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

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Individual techniques:

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