Red-Necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena
Range Map

The Red-Necked Grebe lives around the globe in the northern hemisphere of North America, Europe, and Asia. In winter, these birds wear a dull gray suit and they stay near the coastline, usually just beyond the breakers.

Science recognizes two subspecies of these birds:

  • P. g. grisegena, breeds in eastern Europe, western Asia. They spend winters from the North Sea to the Caspian and Aral Seas.
  • P. g. holboelii breeds in eastern Russia, Manchuria and Japan, and Canada and northwestern USA. They spend winters in China, Korea and Japan, through Aleutian Islands to Pacific coasts of Canada and the USA to southern California, and also eastern Canada and eastern USA south to Florida.

As with all grebes, they have legs positioned at the rear of their bodies, making them nearly useless for walking on land. Therefore, they choose locations near water for nesting. When these birds nest on shorelines, they usually keep a respectful ~150 feet between nesting pair’s territories. Where large floating plant masses are available, they consider it prime nesting territory. In such places, nests might get placed as near as 30 feet from each other, and produce larger egg clutches which often hatch earlier in the season than those in land based nests, where they are more vulnerable to predators.

To date, my only meetings with these birds have been in the town of Watson Lake in Yukon (Canada) while on my way to Alaska in 2005. Given this was my first meeting with these birds, my memories of this day are especially fond.

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