Great Crested Grebe

Did you know?

Grebes are expert divers, and usually dive rather than fly to escape danger.

Calls of the Great Crested Grebe are described as a guttural 'karr-arr', a shrill 'er-wick', as well as trumpeting, moaning and whirring noises.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
Maximum Size: 
Average size: 
Average weight: 
1 100g
Breeding season: 
August to September
Clutch Size: 
5 to 7
26 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
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What does it look like?

The Great Crested Grebe is a medium to large aquatic bird, and is the largest of the grebes. It has a long neck and head with a distinctive black double crest. The Great Crested Grebe has dark brown wings, satin white underparts, a black crown, dark olive-green feet and, during flight, prominent white patches are visible on its wings. This grebe has a white face with a red eye, and a black line from the base of the bill to the eye. The adult female is slightly smaller than the adult male. Juveniles have a striped black and white head and neck.

Where does it live?

The Great Crested Grebe has been recorded in all Australian states and territories. It is found in coastal Queensland, throughout New South Wales, coastal South Australia, coastal and south-west Western Australia, and the Northern Territory. This species is distributed thoughout Europe, Africa and Asia to Australasia, but not New Guinea.


Favouring large deep open bodies of freshwater, the Great Crested Grebe is most commonly found inhabiting rivers, lagoons, lakes, swamps, reservoirs, saltfields, estuaries and bays.

What does it do?

The Great Crested Grebe feeds on fish, caught by diving in clear water. When diving underwater, this grebe is propelled by its feet alone.


The Great Crested Grebe is monogamous, and pair-bonds are maintained throughout the year. The nest is constructed from a mass of dead water-plants, weeds and mud, usually attached to reeds, fallen or drooping brances or a submerged stump, and is found on or near the vegetated margins of large open waters, among reeds, water ribbons Triglochin sp., Gahnia tussocks and Melaleuca thickets. Both parents incubate the eggs and tend to the young.

Living with us

The Great Crested Grebe is threatened by a reduction of breeding habitat (natural freshwater wetlands) through altered drainage, increased salinity, clearing, grazing, altered fire regimes and the extraction of ground-water.

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