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Red-necked Grebe


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Red-necked Grebe breeds on small inland lakes in Canada and Alaska, and winters along both coasts of North America. Boldly marked, vocal, and aggressive during the breeding season, it is quiet and subtly attired in winter.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
16.9–22 in
43–56 cm
24–34.6 in
61–88 cm
28.2–56.4 oz
800–1600 g
Other Names
  • Holboell's Grebe, Gray-cheeked Grebe
  • Grèbe jougris (French)
  • (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Like other grebes, the Red-necked Grebe ingests large quantities of its own feathers. Feathers remain in the bird's stomach. The function of feathers in the stomach is unknown. One hypothesis suggests that the feathers help protect the lower digestive tract from bones and other hard, indigestible material.
  • The Red-necked Grebe also feeds its feathers to its young.
  • The Red-necked Grebe migrates over land strictly at night. It sometimes migrates over water or along coasts by day, in large flocks.
  • The oldest recorded Red-necked Grebe was at least 11 years old when it was found in Minnesota, the same state where it had been banded.



Breeds on shallow freshwater lakes, bays of larger lakes, marshes, and other inland bodies of water. Winters on open ocean or on large lakes.



Fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and some mollusks and amphibians.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–9 eggs
Egg Description
Light blue.
Condition at Hatching
Downy and active; chicks immediately climb onto parent's back, where they spend most of their time until they are 10 to 17 days old.
Nest Description

Floating mound of plant matter with a depression in the middle; bulk of nest is below water line. Nest is placed on aquatic vegetation, sometimes in open water, and anchored to the lake bottom or submerged logs.

Nest Placement



Surface Dive

Pair bond is developed and maintained through highly complex, ritualized courtship displays, including parallel rushes in upright positions and mutual presentation of green weeds.Pairs defend their territories with various threat displays, including spreading of wings, hunching, raising heads, or thrusting bills forward.Dives under water for food. Locates prey by sight. Captures prey by grasping with bill.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is little information on Red-necked Grebe population trends and numbers. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan rates the species a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and lists it as a Species of Moderate Concern. Red-necked Grebe is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, but are listed as Endangered in Wisconsin. These birds are susceptible to contaminants, such as organochlorines and heavy metals, that accumulate in tissues of prey species. Habitat loss for agriculture, roads, and development is also a threat to the species.


Range Map Help

Red-necked 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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