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2

Great Crested Grebe

(Podiceps cristatus)
Alternate name(s): "Crested Grebe", "Tippet Grebe", "Loon", "Gaunt"; Misnomer: "Carr Goose"
Aboriginal name(s): "kiyirn" [tjapwurrung}; "kali" (WA)

Size: 47-61 cm; wing span 59-73 cm
Weight: 0.9-1.5 kg
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Great Crested Grebe at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "australis"

ADULT

PAIR

Close-up lateral view of a pair of Great Crested Grebes performing their bonding ritual(photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Pair of Great Crested Grebes (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Samsonvale, QLD, January 2018]

Pair of Great Crested Grebes checking out a family of Pink-eared Ducks (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Sex unknown

BREEDING

Frontal view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage, i.e. with prominent crest and neck frill
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Frontal view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage, with its head turned sideways
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Near-frontal view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2011]

Great Crested Grebe seen still wet, shortly after resurfacing from a dive
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2011]

Near-lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Kingaroy, QLD, October 2015]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, August 2022]

Lateral view of a wild-looking Great Crested Grebe (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Samsonvale, QLD, May 2020]

Near-dorsal view of a Great Crested Grebe resting on a suburban lake (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Near-dorsal view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Dorsal view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage, i.e. with prominent crest and neck frill
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

About half the population of Great Crested Grebes found on this water storage dam
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, October 2014]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage in comparison with two Australasian Grebes in non-breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, November 2019]

Distant lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe in low flight
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, October 2018]

Distant near-dorsal view of a Great Crested Grebe in low flight
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, October 2018]

NON-BREEDING

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe; the inconspicuous crest and frill may indicate that this bird is in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Gatton, QLD, July 2018]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a first-year Great Crested Grebe; the plumage is mostly like an adult's, but the crest and frill are not yet fully developed
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, July 2016]

Dorsal view of a first-year Great Crested Grebe
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, July 2016]

Partly obscured lateral view of a first-year Great Crested Grebe (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, March 2022]

First-year Great Crested Grebe, still ruffled from its last dive
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, April 2011]

Two first-year Great Crested Grebes; note how the plumage of the bird in the foreground (out-of-focus) is not as well developed yet as that of the bird at the back
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, April 2011]

Lateral view of a juvenile Great Crested Grebe
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, May 2022]

Great Crested Grebe with juvenile in tow (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Bushell's Lagoon, Wilberforce, near Sydney, NSW, May 2016]

Juvenile Great Crested Grebe (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Bushell's Lagoon, Wilberforce, near Sydney, NSW, May 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Nov - Jan Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: 23 - 26 days Fledging age: N/A

Great Crested Grebe chicks are precocial, i.e. they leave the nest shortly after hatching. During the first few days they usually return to the nest; later they ride on the backs of their parents, especially when seeking protection.

Nest

"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Aquatic plants Height above ground: N/A

Great Crested Grebe nests are partially floating mounds of pieces of aquatic plants built up from an underwater object. When leaving the nest, grebes will usually pull some leaves over the eggs to cover them.

Near-lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe on its nest (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, January 2015]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe on its nest in a relaxed stance (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, January 2015]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe on its nest in a more alert stance (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, January 2015]

When you want the location of your nest to be secret, you cannot just chop down reeds for building the nest platform in the immediate surroundings - Great Crested Grebe carrying nesting material across a lake
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 52 x 36 mm Colour: Creamy to dark-brown Shape: Tapered oval

Grebe eggs start off with a relatively light colour. Since the shell is absorbent, they take on colour from the nesting material, turning progressively darker as incubation progresses.

Behaviour

Social behaviour: ? Mobility: Vagrant/dispersive Elementary unit: Solitary

Great Crested Grebes have elaborate courtship and bonding rituals. Apart from displaying their crests and neck frills to each other, a pair will perform a courtship "dance" and the male will present the female with parts of aquatic plants as nesting material.

Pair of Great Crested Grebes performing their bonding ritual(photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Pair of Great Crested Grebes performing their bonding ritual(photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

After that exertion one needs a break - pair of Great Crested Grebes resting (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Meet "spikey" - near-lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe displaying its crest and neck frill (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Lateral view of a Great Crested Grebe displaying its crest and neck frill (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Dorsal view of a Great Crested Grebe displaying its crest and neck frill (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Great Crested Grebes are very good divers that can cover large distances under water and stay below the surface for a long time.

Great Crested Grebe going for a dive
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

This Great Crested Grebe has been digging dirt
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Food, Diet

Great Crested Grebe bringing its catch, which looks like a bug, to its chick
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, January 2022]

Great Crested Grebe bringing its catch, which looks like a bug, to its chick
[New Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, January 2022]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

crgrebe_jp_20200314.m4a cristatus
(Portugal)
Contact calls? Q&A © JP
 
crgrebe_20200316.m4a australis
(NW NSW)
Contact calls? Q&A
(+ White-plumed Honeyeater)
© MD
crgrebe_20161218.mp3 australis
(NW NSW)
? © MD
crgrebe_20161218_2.mp3 australis
(NW NSW)
? © MD

More Great Crested Grebe sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.