Podiceps Grisegena – Red-Necked Grebe

Podiceps Grisegena - Red-Necked Grebe found in the US

In the northern hemisphere, the red-necked grebe or the Podiceps grisegena migrates. Wintering is limited to calm waters well beyond the waves along ocean shores, however, certain species may winter on huge lakes as well. Grebes enjoy nesting in shallow freshwater bodies including lakes, marshes, and ponds.

All grebes are superb swimmers, but the Red-necked is a particularly quick diver. Their location towards the tail makes them awkward on land. Sucking its own feathers may be a way to protect its digestive system.

Quick Overview: Podiceps Grisegena – Red-Necked Grebe
Body size: Around 17-19 in (43-48 cm) and a weight of 1000 g (35.27 oz)
Main colors: Orange-yellow, Brown, Black, Gray, Reddish-brown
Range: Northern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Red-Necked Grebe Description

Red-necked Grebes are enormous grebes. The upper mandible’s base is orange-yellow, while the lower mandible’s base is chrome-yellow. They have dark brown irises with a golden ring. Like other grebes, its lobed feet serve as paddles and rudders. Their legs are compacted, making them more water-efficient.

Breeding and wintering plumages differ. Non-breeding birds have blackheads with gray sides. A white crescent reaches the lateral margins of the head. Their front necks are whitish or light gray. A black bird’s head, throat, and anterior neck are light. During mating season, their flanks get a distinctive pale gray patch. Reddish-brown lateral neck and breast. The bird’s non-breeding plumage is kept.

Podiceps Grisegena - Red-Necked Grebe found in the US
Podiceps Grisegena – Red-Necked Grebe Photo by: Nigel


These birds have a length of 17-19 in (43-48 cm) and a weight of 1000 g (35.27 oz). Their wings could range from 30-32 in (76-81 cm).


Insects, land and water insects, and even amphibians are eaten by Red-necked Grebes. Fish are a minor part of the diet in smaller lakes with few fish. In addition to Pacific herring, red-necked grebes feed on sculpins, topminnows, and eels. They consume mud lobsters, shrimp, prawns, crayfish, and other amphipods among others. The insects they consume include damselflies, dragonflies, whirligig beetles, water scavenger beetles, black swimmers, water striders, crawling water beetles, flies, wasps, ants, bees, stink bugs, lamellicorn beetles, and billbugs, to name just a few.


Birds that spend most of their time on the water, red-necked grebes are. Red-necked grebes breed all summer on tiny freshwater lakes, marshes, and lake bays. They inhabit bogs and irrigation canals. It favors larger, deeper water bodies with more plants. These grebes stop in rivers, lakes, and ocean shores while migrating.


Red-necked grebes are good divers. They dive for around thirty seconds on average, but for food, they may dive much deeper. They combat invaders by diving. On land, they move by kicking their feet and kicking their breasts. Snowy grebes seldom fly in winter. They move alone or in small groups overland at night. It happens.

Podiceps Grisegena Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Podicipediformes
  • Family: Podicipedidae
  • Genus: Podiceps
  • Species: Podicps grisegena

Best time of the year to see

 The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Red-Necked Grebe in the USA

Breeds from Alaska and northern Canada south to Oregon, Idaho, Ontario, and southern Minnesota, with only a few exceptions east to southern Quebec. Winters near the shores of southern California and Georgia, with just a few visits to Florida.`

The Red-Necked Grebe can be found in the following states in the United States – Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Podiceps Grisegena – Red-Necked Grebe

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