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Grebes: Podicipediformes

Behavior And Reproduction

Grebes like to sunbathe and preen, groom, themselves and spend a lot of time doing so. Many grebes have ten to twelve calls that they use, primarily during breeding season, while other grebes are almost completely silent year-round. Their vocalizations range from whistles to beeps to wails.

Grebes fly at night when moving between various regions. They sometimes fly in groups and loose flocks. The grebe is seasonally monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), has only one mate each year. Nests are built by both parents on the water so that they float, but often they are attached to plant life. These birds build several other platforms besides the nest which they use for resting, mating, and sunbathing. Two to four eggs, or three to eight eggs at higher latitudes, are laid and incubated, warmed, by both parents for twenty-two to twenty-three days. After birth, both parents care for and feed the chicks, which take their first flights between six and twelve weeks of age. They are ready to breed at one year. Some species lay eggs two or three times each year.


When oil tankers spill oil into the ocean, rivers, and bays, aquatic wildlife and the environment are harmed. Spilled oil floats on the surface of the water and spreads out into an "oil slick." Animals that pass through the slick can be seriously injured. Feathers lose the ability to repel water, and fur is no longer able to keep mammals warm. Also, animals swallow the poisonous oil as they attempt to clean themselves, and die.

The largest spill in the United States happened in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez spilled eleven million gallons of oil off the coast of Alaska. Two-hundred-sixteen thousand gallons (818,000 liters) of oil ended up on shore, affecting approximately 1,300 miles (2,090 kilometers) of shoreline.

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council estimates that the spill killed 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs.

Predators of the grebe, animals that hunt them for food, include weasels, mink, ferrets, crows, hawks, gulls, and pike. Grebes live to be anywhere from eleven to fifteen years old.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsGrebes: Podicipediformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Great Crested Grebe (podiceps Cristatus): Species Accounts, Western Grebe (aechmophorus Occidentalis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, GREBES AND PEOPLE, C