Australasian Grebe

Australasian Grebe swimming

Scientific Name: Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

Size: 25-27cm

What does it look like?

The Australasian Grebe has two distinct plumage phases. The non-breeding plumage of both the male and female is dark grey-brown above and mostly silvergrey below, with a white patch of bare skin at the base of the bill. During the breeding season both sexes have a glossy-black head and a rich chestnut facial stripe that extends from just behind the eye through to the base of the neck. The eye becomes darker and the oval patch of bare skin at the base of the bill becomes pale yellow and more noticeable.

Where is it found?

The Australasian Grebe is found in freshwater ponds or small waterways over the whole of Australia. Birds occur throughout the Pacific region and have self-introduced themselves to New Zealand.

What are its habitats & habits?

The Australasian Grebe can be seen on lakes, ponds and dams and, when approached, will tend to dive underwater. Food consists mainly of small fish and water insects. Prey is normally caught during deep underwater dives, but some is taken on the surface. Like other Grebes, the Australasian Grebe is often seen eating its own feathers and feeding them to its young. This behaviour is thought to help prevent injury from any sharp bones that are digested. The breeding season extends from September to January in the south and January to April in the north. Up to three successive broods may be reared in a season. 4 or 5 pale blue eggs are laid in each clutch. The nest is a floating mound of vegetation, and is 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. When parents start breeding again, however, the young of the previous brood are driven away.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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