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Tachybaptus ruficollis

Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Podicipediformes
Familia: Podicipedidae
Genus: Tachybaptus
Species: Tachybaptus ruficollis
Subspecies: T. r. capensis - T. r. collaris - T. r. cotabato - T. r. iraquensis - T. r. kunikyonis - T. r. philippensis - T. r. poggei - T. r. ruficollis - T. r. tricolor - T. r. vulcanorum

Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis (*)


Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas, 1764)


* Catalogue raisonne, D'une Collection supérieurement belle D'Oiseaux, Tant exotiques qu'Européens, ... p.6 no.281

Vernacular names
Български: Малък гмурец
Česky: Potápka malá
Dansk: Lille lappedykker
Deutsch: Zwergtaucher
Ελληνικά: Νανοβουτηχτάρι (Κοκκινόλαιμο)
English: Little Grebe
Esperanto: Malgranda grebo
Français: Grèbe castagneux
Lietuvių: Mažasis kragas
Nederlands: Dodaars
Polski: Perkozek
Slovenčina: Potápka hnedá
Svenska: Smådopping
Vèneto: Strapunzin
中文: 小鸊鷉


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.[2]

* T. r. ruficollis is found from Europe and western Russia south to North Africa.
* T. r. iraquensis is found in southeastern Iraq and southwestern Iran.
* T. r. capensis is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and the Indian subcontinent, extending east to Burma.
* T. r. poggei
* T. r. philippensis
* T. r. cotobato
* T. r. tricolor
* T. r. volcanorum
* T. r. collaris

This bird breeds in small colonies in heavily vegetated areas of freshwater lakes across Europe, much of Asia down to New Guinea, and most of Africa. Most birds move to more open or coastal waters in winter, but it is only migratory in those parts of its range where the waters freeze.


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.[3]

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.
2. ^ Ogilvie, Malcolm; Chris Rose (2003). Grebes of the World. Bruce Coleman. ISBN 1-872842-03-8.
3. ^ Finn, Frank (1905). "Notes on the nesting of the Indian Dabchick pages=10-17". Bird Notes 4. http://www.archive.org/stream/birdnotes05fore#page/n17/mode/2up.

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Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License