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Horned Grebe Life History


Habitat Lakes and PondsBreeds on small to moderate-sized, shallow freshwater ponds and marshes. Winters along coasts and on large bodies of water.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesAquatic insects, fish, crustaceans, and other small aquatic animals.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Floating

Nest Description

An open bowl in a platform of floating vegetation or on a rock.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:3-8 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:1.7-1.8 in (4.43-4.58 cm)
Egg Width:1.2-1.2 in (3.02-3.09 cm)
Incubation Period:23-24 days
Egg Description:White to brownish or bluish green.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and active; can swim and dive within one day, but usually stay on nest platform.
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Behavior Surface DiveDives underwater for food, in open water and among aquatic vegetation. Picks insects off water surface.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernHorned Grebe are common, but populations appear to have experienced declines between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. There is little information on absolute population size, but evidence suggests that this grebe's breeding range is contracting. The species rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Horned Grebe is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

Stedman, Stephen J. (2000). Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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