Been one of my favorite birds here’s a blog about them. I wonder how many people know Great Crested Grebe is something of a conservation success story. Up until about 1850 the species was distributed across much of central and eastern England but the latter half of the 19th Century saw the breeding population reduced to as few as 32 pairs. The reason for this dramatic change in fortunes was the Great Exhibition, at which the furriers Robert Clarke & Sons exhibited the pelts of four birds in full breeding plumage. This led to the development of a trade in which the pelts were used as a substitute for animal furs in boas and muffs; the feathers were also used in the millinery trade. Successful campaigns against these trades led to a succession of bird protection acts that ultimately saw the population recover.

Great Crested Grebe Courtship

Love is in the air in February, when the great crested grebes meet, both the male and female raise their crests, and flare their throat feathers and bob and shake their heads. The grebe’s both  dive and surface with weed present’s in their beaks. If the weed dance is succesful, the grebe’s form a lasting bond, and they will mate with her and the pair start building a floating nest anchored to vegetation. Hopefully next year I can witness this, as I just missed it this year.

Great crested Grebe Eggs

After may, two or more eggs are laid, Incubation is 27 to 29 days and both parents are involved in the incubation. When the parents leave the nests they cover the eggs with vegetation to keep them warm. In a clutch of two or more hatchlings, male and female grebes will each identify their ‘favourites’, which they alone will care for and teach the young by carrying them on their back’s and diving, leaving the chick floating on the surface. Then they re-emerge a few feet away and the chick swims back. The chicks will travel on their parent’s back’s for protection for up to two weeks.

 

You can check out my gallery of Great Crested Grebe HERE