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

Grebe (New Zealand Dabchick) Poliocephalus rufopectus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Poliocephalus
Species: P. rufopectus
Binomial name: Poliocephalus rufopectus
Common names: New Zealand grebe, New Zealand dabchick, weweia, totokipio, taihoropi, taratimoho

Poliocephalus rufopectus is a member of the grebe family endemic to New Zealand and is nationally vulnerable. It is small to medium-sized aquatic diving bird with a long neck. The eyes are a pale yellow. Its plumage is greyish and with a line of distinctive fine, silvery feathers on its head. During the breeding season, the front of the neck and breast are rich rust red. The black bill is straight and stout. It has short legs with large lobed feet. They are 28 – 30 cm in length and weigh 230-270 gm.

Poliocephalus rufopect is found in the North Island on the West coast on coastal lakes from North Cape to Pukekohe and from Southern Taranaki to Paraparaumu, on lakes of the central plateau, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa. It was formerly widespread in the South Island but due to predation, there has only been one report of a breeding pair at the top of the South Island in 2012.

Their diet consists mostly of aquatic insects and their larvae, as well as small molluscs such as freshwater snails. Bigger prey such as fish and freshwater crayfish are sometimes taken.
The New Zealand grebe has dark brown plumage, black back and a pale yellow iris.
Nesting occurs mainly during August-February with 2-3 bluish eggs being laid.


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