Eared Grebe Life History


Habitat Lakes and PondsBreeds in shallow lakes and ponds. In migration and in winter prefers salt water. Occurs in great numbers in super salty habitats, where fish are absent.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesAquatic invertebrates, especially brine shrimp and brine flies.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Floating

Nest Description

An open bowl of aquatic plants, attached to reeds or other emergent vegetation.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-8 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:1.7-1.8 in (4.3-4.6 cm)
Egg Width:1.1-1.2 in (2.9-3.1 cm)
Incubation Period:20-23 days
Egg Description:Light blue, changing to whitish.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and capable of climbing, swimming, and eating within an hour after hatching.
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Behavior Surface DiveCourtship includes various elaborate mutual displays by mates, including rising out of water with neck extended, and swimming upright in parallel.Feeds at surface or by diving to the bottom. Researchers believe that the Eared Grebe uses its large, fleshy tongue much as baleen whales do, crushing prey against the palate and extruding water.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernEared Grebe are abundant and widespread, and populations remained stable between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental population of 3.5-4.1 million birds (counted in the fall), and lists it as a Species of Moderate Concern. Eared Grebe rate a 9 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and the species is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. Though these grebes appear to be increasing in some places, frequent mass deaths at the Salton Sea in California, a major staging and wintering area for the species, pose concern.Back to top


Cullen, S. A., Joseph R. Jehl Jr. and Gary L. Nuechterlein. 1999. Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

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, USA.

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