T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Grebe (Australasian) Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Tachybaptus
Species: T. novaehollandiae
Binomial name: Tachybaptus novaehollandiae
Common names: Australasian grebe, Little grebe, Australasian little grebe, Eastern little grebe, Australian little grebe,

The Australasian grebe is a small, uncommon, protected, waterbird found on fresh water lakes and rivers in Australia, New Zealand and on nearby Pacific islands. In New Zealand this native bird was self-introduced and is widely scattered on a few lakes in the North and South Islands. It favours small reed-fringed freshwater lakes, dune lakes and farm ponds rather than large lakes.
Australasian grebe is >27 cm in length and weighing > 230g. It is one of the smallest members of the grebe family. They have a distinctive yellow patch below the yellow eye at the base of the bill. It has two distinct plumage phases. During the non-breeding plumage both sexes are generally duller, with no chestnut stripe, the face spot whiter, and throat and front grey-white. During the breeding season, both sexes are dark brown above with a glossy-black head and neck and a striking chestnut facial stripe, extending from behind the eye to the base of the neck. 
The Australasian grebe are not strong fliers but are excellent swimmers and divers and if disturbed they will dive and re-surface 10–15 metres away rather than fly.
The New Zealand breeding season is September to January. They build on a lake margin a floating nest which is attached to submerged vegetation. 2 to 4 white eggs is the clutch size. The birds are monogamous. Incubation and parental care of young is shared. Initially the young will ride on the parents back, hidden between their slightly raised wings.
Grebes feed on small fish, tadpoles, crustaceans, insects and water weeds. Grebes eat their own feathers and also feed them to their young to prevent bones passing into the gut, they are regurgitated periodically.

  


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