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Horned Grebe

Podiceps auritus

Length: 12 to 14 inches Wingspan: 24 inches Seasonality: Migrant / Summer
ID Keys: (Breeding Plumage) Black head with golden ear tufts, reddish neck, dark bill

Horned Grebe - Podiceps auritusHorned Grebes are a widespread grebe, also found in Europe and Asia.  They are often relatively tame, allowing fairly close approach by humans.  Horned Grebes are not as gregarious as many of the grebes, and don't breed in the large colonies that other grebes sometimes do.  The Horned Grebe is similar to the Eared Grebe, but can best be differentiated in summer plumage by the reddish neck (the Eared Grebe has a blackish neck).

Habitat: Lakes, ponds, reservoirs.   Prefers areas having both open water and wetland vegetation.

Diet: Mostly insects and crustaceans during summers in South Dakota, also fish, amphibians, leeches, and some plant material.

Behavior: Primarily feeds by diving under the water's surface and propelling itself through the water with its feet.  They will also pluck food items from the water's surface.

Nesting: June and July

Song: A harsh kyark-kyark.

Migration: Summers in extreme northern U.S. the western 2/3rds of Canada, and Alaska.  Generally winters along North American coastlines and large inland water bodies in the south.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Horned Grebe sightings

Similar Species: Eared Grebe

Status: Possibly in long-term decline.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Horned Grebe

2) Audubon Guide - Horned Grebe

3) Horned Grebe

Photo Information: April 8th, 2007 - Wall Lake, Minnehaha County - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Horned Grebe photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
 Horned Grebe - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant throughout the state.  Uncommon summer breeding resident in the north-central and northeastern part of the state.

Additional Horned Grebe Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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