Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas, 1764)
* Catalogue raisonne, D'une Collection supérieurement belle D'Oiseaux, Tant exotiques qu'Européens, ... p.6 no.281
The Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), also known as Dabchick, is 23 to 29 cm in length. It is the smallest European member of the grebe family of water birds and is commonly found in open bodies of water across most of its range.
Little Grebe is a small water bird with a pointed bill. The adult is unmistakable in summer, predominantly dark above with its rich, rufous colour neck, cheeks and flanks, and bright yellow gape. The rufous is replaced by a dirty brownish grey in non-breeding and juvenile birds.
Juvenile birds have a yellow bill with a small black tip, and black and white streaks on the cheeks and sides of the neck as seen below. This yellow bill darkens as the juveniles age, eventually turning black once in adulthood
In winter, its size, buff plumage, with a darker back and cap, and “powder puff” rear end enable easy identification of this species. The Little Grebe's breeding call, given singly or in duet, is a trilled repeated weet-weet-weet or wee-wee-wee which sounds like a horse whinnying.
There are nine currently-recognized subspecies of Little Grebe, separated principally by size and colouration.
* T. r. ruficollis is found from Europe and western Russia south to North Africa.
Little Grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver and pursues its fish and aquatic invertebrate prey underwater. It uses the vegetation skilfully as a hiding place.
Like all grebes, it nests at the water's edge, since its legs are set very far back and it cannot walk well. Usually four to seven eggs are laid. When the adult bird leaves the nest it usually takes care to cover the eggs with weeds. The young leave the nest and can swim soon after hatching, and chicks are often carried on the backs of the swimming adults.
It does not normally interbreed with the larger grebes in the Old World, but a bird in Cornwall mated with a vagrant North American Pied-billed Grebe, producing hybrid young
1. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Tachybaptus ruficollis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 2008-11-01.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License