Slavonian Grebe

Slavonian Grebe

Key facts

Scientific name: Podiceps auritus

Status: Resident breeding species and winter visitor

Breeding birds: 30 pairs

Wintering birds: 1,100 birds

Conservation status: Red 

Family: Grebes

Length: 31 – 38 cm

Wingspan: 59 – 66 cm

Weight: 360 – 450 g

Description

Adult Slavonian grebes in breeding plumage have dark brown upperparts and tail. The wings are dark brown with white secondary flight feathers. The belly and flanks are bright red and the belly and underwing is white.

The head is black with a red forehead and lores and conspicuous golden tufts. The bill is black, the eyes are bright red and the legs and feet are black. Both male and female are similar.

Out of breeding plumage the upperparts, forehead, crown and hindneck, are black, and the underparts, cheeks and sides of the head are white. The flanks are grey or white streaked with grey.

Juvenile Slavonian grebes resemble adults in non-breeding plumage, but are browner.

Breeding

Slavonian grebes breed between April and August or September, usually alone or sometime in loose colonies. Both male and female build the nest which is a floating platform made from aquatic plants, anchored to vegetation. It may also be built on a rock in the water.

Slavonian grebes lay 4-5 white, brown or blue-green eggs which are incubated by both parents for 22-25 days. The chicks have striped down when they hatch and fledge 55-60 days later. They are sexually mature at two years.

Feeding

Slavonian grebes eat mainly fish and crustaceans, as well as insects and larvae, beetles, dragonflies, mayflies, and worms.

Slavonian Grebe

Where to see them

Slavonian grebes can be seen all year round in the UK. During breeding season they are found in northern Scotland. During the winter they can be spotted around UK coasts.       

Listen

Simon Elliott/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The Slavonian grebe eats its own feathers which form a matted plug in its stomach and functions as a filter for fish bones until they can be digested.

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