The great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) is the largest grebe in Europe . It is a graceful bird, with its long neck, long bill and slender outline. In summer, the adults of both sexes are adorned with beautiful head-plumes , which are reddish-orange in colour with black tips ; there is also an erectile black crown . The sexes are similar in appearance, but great crested grebe juveniles can be distinguished by the possession of blackish stripes on the cheeks .
- Wingspan: 59-73 cm
- Length: 46-51 cm
Great crested grebe biology
The great crested grebe dives for fish, insects and invertebrate larvae, chasing prey under water by strongly swimming with its feet
Pairs begin to form during the middle of winter, and nesting can start in January, providing that conditions are mild . The great crested grebe is well known for its elaborate courtship display, in which pairs raise and shake their head plumes, and approach each other with weed in their bills, rising up breast to breast in the water and turning their heads from side to side . The nest is either a hidden mound of reeds and other vegetation or else a floating platform anchored to vegetation . After May , between one and nine (but usually four) eggs are laid , which take 27 to 29 days to incubate . Both great crested grebe parents are involved in incubation; when they leave the nest they cover the eggs with rotting vegetation to keep them warm . After hatching, the stripy chicks are carried around on the backs of their parents, they fledge at around 71 to 79 days of age .
Great crested grebe range
The great crested grebe has a wide distribution in Britain, but occurs sparsely . Breeding occurs in Europe from Britain, Spain and Ireland across to Russia, but the distribution is rather patchy .