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Least Grebe


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The smallest grebe in the Americas, the Least Grebe inhabits both temporary and permanent wetlands from south Texas to Argentina. Easily overlooked because of its size, coloration, and habits, it remains the most poorly understood of North American grebes.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
8.7–10.6 in
22–27 cm
2.9–6.4 oz
81–182 g
Other Names
  • Grebe minime (French)
  • Zambullidor chico, Tigua (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Least Grebe sunbathes by facing away from the sun, closing its wings and tipping them upward on the back. It raises feathers of the rear parts, as well as those on the back of the head. The skin underneath these raised feathers has black pigment, believed to help absorb solar radiation.
  • The Least Grebe can hide under water with only its bill showing above the surface.



Temporary or permanent wetlands, including ponds, lakes, ditches, and slow-moving rivers.



Aquatic insects, small fish, and tadpoles.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–7 eggs
Egg Description
Whitish, or pale blue or green.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with black-and-white down. Within 20 minutes after hatching, young Least Grebes can climb on their mother's backs; within 40 minutes, they can cling to their mother when she dives.
Nest Description

A pile of decaying vegetation anchored to plants in shallow water.

Nest Placement



Surface Dive

Picks prey from water's surface; also dives to pluck food from the bottom, or emerges from under water to snap at flying insects above surface.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is little information on Least Grebe population numbers and trends. The species rates a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. However, the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan lists it as a Species of High Concern. Least Grebe is hunted across much of its range.


Range Map Help

Least Grebe Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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