- ORDER: Podicipediformes
- FAMILY: Podicipedidae
The dashing Horned Grebe is a sight in summer with its gray-black head and back, brick red neck, and blazing yellow-orange "horns" on its head. Look for these small grebes on migration as they travel to their breeding lakes in the far north. In winter, they transition to a much more subdued gray and white, with a neat black cap and white cheek that helps separate them from the similar Eared Grebe. In winter, Horned Grebes gather in flocks and dive for fish and other small prey in lakes and bays.More ID Info
Find This Bird
April and October are good times across North America to look for migrating Horned Grebes as they stop over on lakes, rivers, and coastlines. In winter, look for them along both coasts and on open water in the southeastern U.S. Some Horned Grebes winter on the Great Lakes but disperse during cold snaps in search of open (unfrozen) water. At breeding lakes, listen for their trilling calls traveling over the water on calm days.
- Zampullín cuellirrojo (Spanish)
- Grèbe esclavon (French)
- Cool Facts
- As in many grebe species, Horned Grebe frequently ride on their parents' backs, nestled in between their wings. The chicks may even go underwater with their parents during dives.
- The Horned Grebe regularly eats some of its own feathers, enough that its stomach usually contains a matted plug of them. This plug may function as a filter or may hold fish bones in the stomach until they can be digested. The parents even feed feathers to their chicks to get the plug started early.
- A sleeping or resting Horned Grebe puts its neck on its back with its head off to one side and facing forward. It keeps one foot tucked up under a wing and uses the other one to maneuver in the water. Having one foot up under a wing makes it float with one "high" side and one "low" side.
- The oldest recorded Horned Grebe was at least 5 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in the Northwest Territories, Canada, in 2007, the same place where it had been banded in 2002.