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Red-necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena

Length: 19 to 20 inches Wingspan: 32 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: White-cheeked head with black cap, reddish neck, long yellow bill

Red-necked Grebe - Podiceps grisegenaThe Red-necked Grebe is a large grebe found nesting in the northeastern part of the state.  They strongly prefers salt water in winter, fresh water in summer.  Red-necked Grebes are often a relatively tame bird, often allowing close approach by humans, and even regularly breeding in some urban ponds and reservoirs.

Habitat: Larger lakes, ponds, reservoirs.   Prefers areas having both open water and wetland vegetation.

Diet: Small fish, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, tadpoles, leeches, and occasionally plant material.

Behavior: Forages by swimming along the water's surface, occasionally diving below the water and propelling itself by its feet in search of food, or plucking food items from the surface of the water.  Will often partially submerge its head in search of food, and dive once food is spotted.

Nesting: June and July

Song: Loon-like calls during courtship.

Migration: Summers in selected locations in the northern U.S., and through much of Canada and Alaska.  Generally winters along U.S. and Canadian coastlines, with some occasionally wintering inland (especially around the Great Lakes). 

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Red-necked Grebe sightings

Similar Species: Very distinctive in breeding plumage.  Larger size and bill make it distinctive from other somewhat similarly colored, winter-plumaged grebes.  Winter plumage bird could potentially be confused with winter-plumaged Common Loon.

Status: Probably in decline in recent decades, due to pesticide ingestion and habitat loss.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Red-necked Grebe

2) Audubon Guide - Red-necked Grebe

3) Red-necked Grebe

Photo Information: June 24th, 2006 - Near Anchorage, Alaska - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Red-necked Grebe photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Red-necked Grebe - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant in the eastern part of the state, only a handful of records in the western part.  Uncommon summer breeder in the northeastern corner of the state.

Additional Red-necked Grebe Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Red-necked Grebe - Podiceps grisegenaRed-necked Grebe - Podiceps grisegenaRed-necked Grebe - Podiceps grisegena