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Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
The Black-necked Grebe is found on every continent except Australasia and Antarctica. It can be found from Europe to western Asia and in central and eastern Asia, wintering in the south-west Palearctic, east Asia and east Africa. It can also be found wintering and breeding in southern Africa. Furthermore, it breeds in south-west Canada, western USA and central Mexico, wintering as far south as Guatemala1.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.3,900,000-4,200,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in Korea and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are stable, have unknown trends or are increasing (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant increase over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007).

Behaviour This species is fully migratory (Snow and Perrins 1998), although the extent of migration varies between populations (del hoyo et al. 1992), and some populations remain predominantly sedentary (e.g. in Spain) (del hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998). Autumn movements are often protracted, with dispersal beginning in mid-August and lasting until late-November (peaking in October) (Snow and Perrins 1998), with the return migration beginning in March (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species migratory movements are mainly nocturnal, although diurnal migration is known in the Palearctic (del hoyo et al. 1992). It breeds between May and June in the Northern Hemisphere (Fjeldsa 2004) (although laying dates often vary extensively between years and lakes) (Fjeldsa 2004), and nests in reed swamps (del hoyo et al. 1992) in small or large colonies of up to 2000 nests (although the species may also nest in isolated pairs) (Fjeldsa 2004). It forages diurnally (Brown et al. 1982, Fjeldsa 2004) and is highly gregarious (del hoyo et al. 1992, Fjeldsa 2004), both on migration and during the winter, forming concentrations of hundreds of thousands at certain sites in North America and Asia (del hoyo et al. 1992). After arrival in autumn staging grounds (e.g. Mono Lake in California) the species becomes flightless for 3 to 4 months due to loss of weight from the pectoral muscles (Ogilvie and Rose 2003). Habitat Breeding During the breeding season this species frequents permanent and temporary (Snow and Perrins 1998) small, shallow, highly eutrophic pools with lush vegetation, such as freshwater marshes and lakes (del hoyo et al. 1992) with dispersed submergent vegetation and patches of reeds (Konter 2001, Fjeldsa 2004), as well as ponds and fish ponds, sewage farms, quiet river backwaters and newly flooded areas (del hoyo et al. 1992). In southern Russia and Kazakhstan it shows a preference for variably developed reed swamps and gypsotrophic lakes (alkaline waters with rich submergent vegetation such as Chara and Potamogeton pectinatus) (Fjeldsa 2004). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species moves to salt lakes (del hoyo et al. 1992), hyper-saline industrial evaporation ponds (Fjeldsa 2004) and reservoirs (Snow and Perrins 1998), or to coastal estuaries, arms of the sea, and inshore shallows in bays and channels (del hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998). Diet The species is carnivorous, its diet consisting of adult and larval insects (such as aquatic bugs, terrestrial and aquatic beetles, damselflies, dragonflies (del hoyo et al. 1992), midges and brine-flies (Fjeldsa 2004)), molluscs, crustaceans (e.g. brine shrimps), amphibians (e.g. small frogs and tadpoles) (del hoyo et al. 1992), nereid worms (Fjeldsa 2004), snails (Konter 2001) and small fish (del hoyo et al. 1992, Fjeldsa 2004). Breeding site It usually nests colonially in thinly spaced, emergent marsh vegetation (such as Scirpus, Typha or sedge Carex), or on dense mats of floating waterweed, sometimes far from the shore (Fjeldsa 2004). The nest is a floating platform of aquatic vegetation anchored to emergent vegetation (del hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998) such as reeds (Fjeldsa 2004).

Huge mortalities are frequently sustained at Salton Sea in southern California for unknown reasons (Friend 2002, Cole and Franson 2006) (possibly an unknown biotoxin, pathogen, impairment of feather waterproofing leading to hypothermia, or a unique manifestation of avian cholera) (Meteyer et al. 2004). The species is also vulnerable to oil pollution as it frequently winters on the coast (del hoyo et al. 1992, Ogilvie and Rose 2003), and is susceptible to avian cholera (Ogilvie and Rose 2003, Friend 2006), Erysipelas (Jensen and Cotter 1976, Friend 2006) and avian botulism (van Heerden 1974) so is threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases. Populations have also been known to crash in winter habitats during ENSO events due to reductions in food availability due to warming sea-surface temperatures, although they afterwards rebound (Jehl et al. 2002). Local declines of this species are also attributed to human disturbance (especially recreational activities on lakes) (del hoyo et al. 1992), and it is commonly killed by collisions with power transmission lines (Malcolm 1982). The species is predated by American Mink Mustela vison in the Slonsk Reserve, western Poland (Bartoszewicz and Zalewski 2003) and was threatened in North America by egg collecting and hunting for the millinery (hat making) industry (although this threat has since been removed) (del hoyo et al. 1992). Utilisation The species is hunted for commercial and recreational purposes in Gilan Province, northern Iran (Balmaki and Barati 2006).

Balmaki, B.; Barati, A. 2006. Harvesting status of migratory waterfowl in northern Iran: a case study from Gilan Province. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 868-869. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Bartoszewicz, M.; Zalewski, A. 2003. American mink, Mustela vison diet and predation on waterfowl in the Slonsk Reserve, western Poland. Folia Zoologica 52(3): 225-238.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

Cole, R. A., Franson, J. C. 2006. Recurring waterbird mortalities of unusual etiologies. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 439-440. The Stationary Office.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Fjeldså, J. 2004. The grebes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Friend, M. 2002. Avian disease at the Salton Sea. Hydrobiologia 473: 293-306.

Friend, M. 2006. Evolving changes in diseases of waterbirds. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 412-417. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Jehl, J. R., Jr.; Boyd, W. S.; Paul, D. S.; Anderson, D. W. 2002. Massive collapse and rapid rebound: population dynamics of Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis) during an ENSO event. The Auk 119(4): 1162-1166.

Jensen, W. I.; Cotter, S. E. 1976. An outbreak of Erysipelas in Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 12: 583-586.

Konter, A. 2001. Grebes of our world. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Malcolm, J. M. 1982. Bird collisions with a power transmission line and their relation to botulism at a Montana USA wetland. Wildlife Society Bulletin 10(4): 297-304.

Meteyer, C. U.; Audet, D. J.; Rocke, T. E.; Radke, W.; Creekmore, L. H.; Duncan, R. 2004. Investigation of a large-scale Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis die-off at the Salton Sea, California, in 1992. Studies in Avian Biology 27: 141-151.

Ogilvie, M.; Rose, C. 2003. Grebes of the World. Bruce Coleman, Uxbridge.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

van Heerden, J. 1974. Botulism in the Orange Free State goldfields. Ostrich 45(3): 182-184.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J. & Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Podiceps nigricollis. Downloaded from on 24/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Podicipedidae (Grebes)
Species name author Brehm, 1831
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 9,250,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change
- 2015 European Red List assessment