Australasian Grebe

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Image:AustralasianGrebe.JPG

Common Name: Australasian Grebe
Scientific Name: Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

Size: 9.8-10.6 inches (25-27 cm); Wingspan: 11-15 inches (28-38 cm)

Habitat: Australia/Oceania; greater Australia, New Zealand and on nearby Pacific islands.

The Australasian Grebe is found in freshwater ponds or small waterways.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown amount of adult individuals. The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends.

Diet: Small fish and water insects. Prey is normally caught during deep underwater dives, but some is taken on the surface.

Nesting: Breeding plumage: Both sexes are dark brown above with a glossy-black head and neck and a striking chestnut facial stripe, extending from behind the eye to the base of the neck. The eye is yellow, with a prominent pale yellow face spot below. Non-breeding plumage: Both sexes are generally duller, with no chestnut stripe, the face spot whiter, and throat and front grey-white. It is similar to non-breeding hoary-headed grebe which shares a similar range.

The Australasian Grebe may have up to three successive broods in a season. The pale blue eggs are laid in a nest which is a floating mound of vegetation, normally anchored to a submerged branch or reed. The striped downy chicks are able to swim from birth and are cared for by both parents. Both parents will raise the chicks; however, the male will leave after a couple of months when the chicks are about three-quarters grown. Initially the young will ride on the parents back, hidden between their slightly raised wings. When the chicks begin to dive and feed themselves (at about 10 weeks) the mother may leave too, although mothers have been known to return soon after, apparently to check on the chicks.

When parents start breeding again, however, the young of the previous brood are driven away. The parents are very protective and will try to drive away other water birds (ducks, herons) by confronting them and flapping their wings wildly or using their wings to splash water at the intruders.

Cool Facts: It is one of the smallest members of the grebe family, along with the least grebe and little grebe.

The Australasian grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver, and usually dives immediately when alarmed and swims away under water.

Like other grebes, the Australasian Grebe is often seen eating its own feathers and feeding them to its young. This behavior is thought to help prevent injury from any sharp fish bones that are swallowed.

They are not strong flyers and will fly distances only at night, presumably to avoid predators. They tend not to leave their home base if there is sufficient food. If disturbed, they will dive and re-surface 10–15 meters away rather than fly.


Found in Songbird Remix Waterfowl Volume 4: Geese, Loons, Grebes & Coots

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