mid-sized grebe with a long, heavy bill and thick neck, the Red-necked
Grebe is the only grebe in Washington with a red neck and a white
chin in breeding plumage. Breeding plumage is characterized by
a dark body, red neck, white cheeks, and black crown. Juveniles
and adults in non-breeding plumage are an overall grayish-brown.
Grebes are found in distinctly different habitats at different
times of year. During summer they nest on large freshwater lakes,
sloughs, and reservoirs. They prefer areas with stable water
levels and require emergent vegetation to anchor their floating
nests. During winter they are found predominantly on salt water,
most commonly in protected bays, marshes, and coasts. However
in winter they can also be found miles offshore.
large rafts of these birds can be seen in the Atlantic in winter,
Washington's wintering Red-necked Grebes are solitary. During
the breeding season, Red-necked Grebes are noisy and conspicuous.
Like other grebes, Red-necked Grebes have a complex courtship,
with many detailed displays. In the breeding season Red-necked
Grebes are highly territorial against other species of water
birds. They will defend their territories with underwater attack-dives.
the winter small fish make up most of the diet. In summer insects
become more important as a food source.
Grebes build their nests in shallow water with marsh vegetation.
Both male and female help build a floating nest made of plant
material and anchored to emergent vegetation. Typically, the
female lays two to four eggs. Some nests have many more eggs,
but it has been suggested that these large clutches are the product
of more than one female. The young are fed by both parents and
often ride on their backs. Shortly after hatching, they can swim
migrating, Red-necked Grebes fly over land at night and over
coastlines by day. They arrive on their breeding territories
in April and leave in September. Migration is short distance,
typically between fresh and salt water. In the fall they stop
over at molt sites en route to their wintering areas, where they
molt and grow new feathers before they move on.