Grebe (Australasian Crested) Podiceps cristatus australis
Species: P. cristatus
Sub Species: P. cristatus australis.
Binomial name: Podiceps cristatus australis
Common name: Australasian Crested Grebe, Puteketeke, Southern crested grebe, Kämana,
Australasian crested grebe is a native diving water birds that breeds in New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand breeding is restricted to a small number of lowland lakes west of the Southern Alps and subalpine and alpine lakes east of the main ranges. Only Canterbury and Otago remain as strongholds.
It is estimated that between 300 and 400 widely-dispersed birds remain in the South Island of New Zealand. Some migrate to Lake Forsyth/Te Wairewa on Banks Peninsula for winter. The Australasian crested grebe is fully protected.
The Australasian crested grebe (50 cm. 1100 g) has a long, sharp bill, a slender neck and head with a prominent black double crest. The cheeks have chestnut frills, fringed black. It has a silvery white fore neck and chest, chestnut at the sides, the upper surface is a blackish brown, its iris is red and the feet are an olive green. This grebe is renowned for its mating displays and the way young grebes ride among plumage on the back of their swimming parents. They breed from September to March building floating nests are attached to submerged vegetation along the lake margins. They are monogamous and sustain their pair bonds throughout the year. Clutch size ranges from one to seven eggs. Incubation and parental care of young is shared.
Australasian crested grebe feed on small fish, insects and water weeds. Grebes eat their own feathers and feed them to their young to prevent bones passing into the gut, they are regurgitated periodically.
This species is under threat mainly from introduced predators and to loss of habitat through drainage of wetlands, and the establishment of hydro schemes. Nests can be stranded or flooded by artificial fluctuations in lake levels. Wash generated by motorised water craft can also swamp nests and destroy eggs while the noise can scare adult birds leaving eggs or chicks exposed to the cold or predators.
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