Colymbus cristatus, Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden. Three subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Grиbe huppй; German: Haubentaucher; Spanish: Somormujo Lavanco.
18–24 in (46–61 cm), P. c. infuscatus smallest; 1.3–3.3 lb (568–1,490 g), heaviest while staging. Adult breeding: crown black elongated to two posterior “horns” that can be raised and spread; rest of upperparts blackish; sides of head white (upper lores and supercilium black in infuscatus) grading to chestnut on large posterior fan with black rear edge; underparts white, upper sides washed with dusky; secondaries, tips of inner primaries, lesser wing-coverts and scapulars white. Eyes red, bill pink with dusky ridge. Nonbreeding: crest short, sides of head white with no fan, immature similar but with several black stripes on headside.
P. c. cristatus: Palaearctic, in winter in southern part of range, mainly on coasts; P. c. infuscatus: Africa locally south of Sahara; P. c. australis: Australia, Tasmania, and South Island, New Zealand.
Mainly large lakes with expanses of open water and reedy bays, but also brackish water, and tolerates heavily eutrophicated and disturbed environments such as city parks.
Alone or on pairs, in staging areas in groups of hundreds, occasionally up to 10,000 together.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Mainly feeds on relatively large fish, usually in fairly deep water, but also takes frogs, crustaceans, squid and other invertebrates.
Courtship display well developed. Nest often placed near that of a coot. One or two broods per year. Up to 9 eggs, but usually 3–5. Incubation period 25–29 days. Young carried 3–4 weeks, associated with parents until 8–10 weeks old, able to fly at 10 weeks.
Nearly extirpated from parts of Europe in the 1800s owing to hunting for the plume trade, but now common in Palaearctic region, where increasing owing to eutrophication of lakes and where the population is estimated at around 700,000 birds. Less common in other parts of range and decreasing in parts of Africa, probably owing to drowning in monofilament gill nets. In New Zealand a drastic decline occurred since the arrival of Europeans, but population now stable.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Formerly extensively hunted for “grebe fur.”
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