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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Slavonian Grebe

Podiceps auritus

  • Name also: Horned Grebe
  • Family: Grebes – Podicipedidae
  • Appearance: A small, colourful grebe. Head black, with distinctive bright orange crests behind each eye. Underparts reddish brown.
  • Size: Length 31–38 cm, wingspan 46–55 cm, weight 400–720 g.
  • Nest: A floating raft made of dead aquatic plants, anchored to living plants or the lake bed. Usually among reeds or other aquatic vegetation, seldom easily visible.
  • Breeding: 4–6 eggs laid in May, incubated by both parents for 22–25 days. Fledglings learn to fly within 55–60 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in Finland as far north as Southern Lapland in nutrient-rich lakes and ponds with plenty of shoreline vegetation. On migration may be seen in other types of inland and coastal waters. Breeding population in Finland estimated at 1,500–3,300 pairs.
  • Migration: Leaves Finland August–November, returning from mid April. Winters in Western Europe and around the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Diet: Mainly insects and crustaceans (which make up 2/3 of total diet).
  • Calls: Calls frail but may carry fairly long distances. Most commonly a harmonious hum.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected (including the Åland Islands). Finland is home to about 48% of the EU’s total breeding population. The species’ total numbers in Europe (including countries outside the EU) have been estimated at between 6,000 and 11,000. European red list status Near threatened, globally Vulnerable.

Adult Slavonian Grebes have black colouring on their forehead, cap, throat and cheeks, and two distinctive bright orange fan-like crests, which extend from behind each eye to the back of their heads. Their necks and flanks are reddish brown, and backs are black. Beaks are black with a yellow tip, irises are orange-red. Legs are greenish black and toes lobed. Juveniles have black caps and napes, white cheeks with dark streaks, brownish back and wings, and pale underparts. Their beaks are paler than adults’ beaks.

The similar Black-necked Grebe (P. nigricollis) may occasionally be seen in Finland. Adults have totally black necks (compared to reddish brown on Slavonian Grebes). In juvenile or winter plumage birds of the two species are hard to distinguish. But one difference that may be discernible on birds in all plumages is the shape of their heads. Black-necked Grebes’ foreheads are steeply sloped, their caps are rounded, and the highest part of their head is above their eyes, while Slavonian Grebes’ head profiles slope more gradually upwards towards the back of their heads.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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