The Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis, formerly known as Dabchick) is 23 to 29 cm in length. It is the smallest European member of the grebe family of water birds and is commonly found in open bodies of water across most of its range.
T. r. capensis - Non-breeding plumage- preening after bath in an Indian Lotus Nelumbo nucifera Pond in Hyderabad, India.
Little Grebe is a small water bird with a pointed bill. The adult is unmistakable in summer, predominantly dark above with its rich, rufous colour neck, cheeks and flanks, and bright yellow gape. The rufous is replaced by a dirty brownish grey in non-breeding and juvenile birds.
Juvenile birds have a yellow bill with a small black tip, and black and white streaks on the cheeks and sides of the neck as seen below. This yellow bill darkens as the juveniles age, eventually turning black once in adulthood
In winter, its size, buff plumage, with a darker back and cap, and "powder puff"? rear end enable easy identification of this species. The Little Grebe's breeding call, given singly or in duet, is a trilled repeated weet-weet-weet or wee-wee-wee which sounds like a horse whinnying.
There are nine currently-recognized subspecies of Little Grebe, separated principally by size and colouration.
- T. r. ruficollis is found from Europe and western Russia south to North Africa.
- T. r. iraquensis is found in southeastern Iraq and southwestern Iran.
- T. r. capensis is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and the Indian subcontinent, extending east to Burma.
- T. r. poggei
- T. r. philippensis
- T. r. cotobato
- T. r. tricolor
- T. r. volcanorum
- T. r. collaris
This bird breeds in small colonies in heavily vegetated areas of freshwater lakes across Europe, much of Asia down to New Guinea, and most of Africa. Most birds move to more open or coastal waters in winter, but it is only migratory in those parts of its range where the waters freeze.
Little Grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish and aquatic invertebrate prey s underwater. It uses the vegetation skilfully as a hiding place.
Like all grebes, it nests on the water's edge, since its legs are set very far back and it cannot walk well. Usually four to seven eggs are laid, and the striped young are sometimes carried on the adult's back.
It does not normally interbreed with the larger grebes in the Old World, but a bird in Cornwall mated with a vagrant North American Pied-billed Grebe, producing hybrid young
T. r. capensis - Non-breeding plumage- in an Indian Lotus Nelumbo nucifera Pond in Hyderabad, India.
T. r. capensis - Non-breeding plumage- bathing in an Indian Lotus Nelumbo nucifera Pond in Hyderabad, India.
T. r. capensis - breeding plumage- just coming out of water in Hyderabad, India."?
T. r. capensis - breeding plumage in Hyderabad, India.
T. r. capensis - Adult with immature at Purbasthali in Burdwan District of West Bengal, India.
T. r. capensis-Breeding plumage in Secunderabad , India.
T. r. capensis - Breeding plumage at Purbasthali.
T. r. capensis - Non-breeding plumage