Red-necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena
A Red-necked Grebe specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (18 inches) grebe, the Red-necked Grebe in summer is most easily identified by its dark back and head, brown neck, and conspicuous white chin patch. In winter, this species becomes dark gray above and light gray below, retaining some white on its chin. Male and female Red-necked Grebes are similar to one another in all seasons. The Red-necked Grebe occurs across wide area of the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, this species breeds across central Alaska, western Canada, and locally in the western United States, wintering along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California, along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to North Carolina, and locally in the Great Lakes. In the Old World, this species breeds in Northern Europe and East Asia, wintering along the coast as far south as the Mediterranean Sea, south China, and India. Red-necked Grebes breed in ponds, lakes, and shallow marshes, preferring areas with thick vegetation to more open water. In winter, this species may be found in shallow marine environments near the coast. Red-necked Grebes primarily eat small insects in summer, switching to small fish during the winter. In appropriate habitat, Red-necked Grebes may be observed floating low in the water, periodically diving down to capture prey. Like most grebes, this species must run and flap along the surface of the water in order to become airborne, subsequently flying swiftly low over the water. Also like most grebes, this species’ legs are positioned at the far end of its body, making it an adept swimmer but rendering it almost entirely unable to move on land. Red-necked Grebes are most active during the day.

DC Information

A rare migrant and winter visitor, seen from early November to early April, on open water. The front and sides of the neck are red in summer plumage, white in winter. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

Date:  1/20/1920
Collected By:  Lewis T Miller
Locality:  Prince George Co, MD, about 1/4 mi from DC Line
Sex:  Female
Catalog ID:  256899

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC25577 Podiceps grisegena (Red-necked Grebe)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC25723 Podiceps grisegena (Red-necked Grebe)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC26934 Podiceps grisegena (Red-necked Grebe)