The Black-Necked Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis, is a small to medium-sized waterbird belonging to the family Podicipedidae. It usually measures between 28 and 34 centimetres (11 and 13 inches) in length and weighs anywhere between 265 and 450 grams (9.3 to 15.9 oz). The bird has a wingspan of up to 55 cm (21.6 inches).
This chap was at the Desembocadura del Guadalhorce, a wetlands area in Málaga.
These elegant birds are found in a variety of aquatic habitats across Eurasia, with their range extending from Western Europe to Asia. They prefer freshwater bodies like lakes, ponds, and slow-flowing rivers, where they can find an abundance of their favourite prey – aquatic invertebrates and small fish.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Black-Necked Grebe is, as its name suggests, its striking black neck and face during the breeding season. During this time, they also sport impressive red eyes and a bright white cheek patch. with a narrow and paler yellow ring on the inner parts of the eye and an orange-yellow to pinkish-red orbital ring.
Outside the breeding season, they adopt a more subdued appearance, with a white face and throat. It has greyish-black upper parts, cap, nape and the dark colour of the cap reaches below the eye. Behind the ear-coverts on the sides of the neck, there are white ovals. The rest of the neck is grey to brownish-grey in colour and has white that varies in amount. The breast is white, and the abdomen is a sort of off-white. The flanks are a mix of blackish-grey with white flecks. The colour of the bill when not breeding differs from that of the breeding plumage, with the former being significantly more grey
These birds are also known for their unique plumage, which sets them apart from other grebe species. Their black upperparts contrast beautifully with their white underparts, creating an eye-catching appearance that makes them a favourite subject for birdwatchers and photographers.
Breeding and Nesting
Black-Necked Grebes are monogamous birds that engage in intricate courtship displays during the breeding season. They often form pairs by performing synchronized dances on the water. They build floating nests close to the water’s edge, using vegetation and other materials to create a safe haven for their eggs.
These grebes are exceptional divers and spend a significant amount of their time submerged beneath the water’s surface. They use their webbed feet to propel themselves underwater in search of their prey, which includes small fish, insects, and crustaceans. Their underwater agility and excellent fishing skills are essential for their survival.
While the Black-Necked Grebe is not classified as a globally threatened species, it faces some conservation challenges. Habitat loss and degradation, water pollution, and disturbances to breeding sites can all impact their populations. Conservation efforts focused on preserving and restoring their wetland habitats are essential to ensuring the continued well-being of these fascinating birds.