This species has a very small and extremely rapidly declining population within a very small range. It is likely that birds may move between breeding sites on an annual basis but recent absences from former breeding sites are now believed to represent genuine declines. The species therefore qualifies as Critically Endangered.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.html.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Distribution and populationPodiceps gallardoi
c.32 cm. Unmistakeable, largely white with a dark grey back extending up the hindneck to its black head with contrasting white forehead merging into a reddish peaked forecrown. Extensive white in the flanks. Similar spp. Silvery Grebe P. occipitalis has less extensive white in the flanks. Its ear coverts are yellow and the front half of the face is grey rather than black. Lacks the peaked crown of Hooded.
breeds on a few basaltic lakes in the interior of Santa Cruz, extreme south-west Argentina
; the only known wintering grounds are the ro Coyle, ro Gallegos and ro Chico estuaries on the Atlantic coast of Santa Cruz (Johnson and Serret 1994,
Imberti et al
. 2004, Roesler et al
. 2011b). It is apparently accidental in Magallanes, south Chile
(Roesler et al
. 2011b). The total population was estimated at 3,000-5,000 individuals in 1997 with half of these on Meseta de Strobel (O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997). Counts on the wintering grounds suggested a decline of 40% over a seven year period (S. Imberti in litt
. (2006), and surveys conducted in December 2006 and January 2009 that revisited key known breeding sites surveyed in 1987 (Lagunas del Sello, del Islote and Tolderia Grande) and 1998 (Encadenadas) also found sharp declines; numbers fell from 452 to 51 at Laguna del Sello, from 700 to 0 at Laguna del Islote, from 90 to 0 at Tolderia Grande (H. Casaas in litt
. 2009) and from 198 to 0 at Lagunas Encadenadas (Konter 2008). During the 2010-2011 breeding season 535 individuals were counted, indicating a population decline of more than 80% over the last 26 years (Roesler et al
. 2011b). In 2013, greater resources allowed a simultaneous count across all plateaus known to have ever held grebes and visiting virtually every lake with historic records of the species, resulting in a count of 691 adults and 144 chicks in 12 colonies (Casaas et al.
2013). While there is speculation that numbers fluctuate dramatically at breeding sites from year to year driven by movements rather than actual population fluctuations (Fjelds 1986), overall declines detected on the wintering and breeding grounds appear to be real and rapid (Roesler et al
. 2011b). Examination of photographs from the 1980s suggests that P. gallardoi
was formerly the commonest waterbird on its core breeding grounds, the Buenos Aires, Strobel and San Martin plateaus; the 2009 surveys visited two of these areas and recorded the declines above as well as noting that a number of former breeding sites were completely dry. Population justification
O'Donnell and Fjeldsa (1997) estimated the population to number 3,000-5,000 individuals. The minimum population size, based on simultaneous winter counts during 2010-2011, is 759 (Roesler et al
. 2011b). Following recent and rapid declines, and new surveys, the latest estimate is 1,000-1,200 individuals, roughly equivalent to 660-800 mature individuals, borne out by the comprehensive 2013 survey's total of 691 adults and 144 chicks (CasaTrend justification
Censuses on the wintering grounds indicated that the population may have declined by as much as 40% since the late 1990s. Assuming an exponential rate of decline this equates to an extremely rapid population decline of 72.5% over 21 years (three generations). This trend is also supported by recent surveys of the breeding grounds. During the winter counts of 2010 and 2011 no juvenile Hooded Grebes were observed (Roesler et al
During the breeding season, it inhabits basaltic lakes in the arid Patagonian steppes at elevations of 500-1,200 m
(Chebez 1994); saline and bitter-salt lakes are used by non-breeding flocks and at least some birds wintering on the Argentine coast (Johnson and Serret 1994). Aquatic vegetation (mainly Myriophyllum elatinoides
) on its breeding lakes is essential material for its floating nest and as habitat for several aquatic invertebrates that form its basic diet
(Chebez 1994). During the first week after hatching, chicks are fed with aquatic beetles (Limnaea
spp.) (Chebez 1994). It breeds in colonies of up to 130 pairs from October-March (Chebez 1994), but has an exceedingly low reproductive rate with an average of 0.2 young reared per adult per year (O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997). However, while potential resources for breeding are apparently limited, the resources for adult survival appear to be plentiful and under natural circumstances adult mortality may be extremely low (O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997). It occasionally establishes colonies in areas marginal to its main range (O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997). Threats
The two principal threats to the species appear to be climate change and the introduction of American Mink Neovison vison
and of salmon and trout to private lakes on the Strobel plateau (Imberti & Casaas 2010, S. Imberti in litt.
1999, Casaas et al.
2013). Recently the introduction of trout has been correlated with a decline in breeding numbers at certain lakes (Konter 2008, S. Imberti in litt
. 2006). Surveys in 2006, 2009, 2010-2011 and 2013 found a number of lakes completely dry and that water levels at known breeding sites were 2-3 m lower than in previous years (Konter 2008, Imberti & Casaas 2010, Roesler et al
. 2011a, Casaas et al.
2013). Anecdotal reports indicated reduced winter snowfall without a corresponding increase in precipitation at other times (Konter 2008). Excessive grazing by sheep (which causes erosion at lakeshores and limits the growth of emergent vegetation), predation by Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus
at some lakes, an inhospitable breeding climate and low breeding potential have been cited as threats (del Hoyo et al
1992, O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997, Imberti & Casaas 2010), but the species's life history strategy is apparently well adapted to these conditions (Fjelds 1986).
Given the small size of the population however the failure of an entire colony's breeding effort due to exceptionally high winds, as observed in 2013 at La Siberia, is a potentially serious threat (Casaas et al.
2013). The apparent increase in the incidents of these exceptional winds may be related to overgrazing and/or climate change (Imberti & Casaas 2010). In 2010-2011 an American Mink
, a new arrival on the Buenos Aires plateau, killed more than half the adults in a breeding colony of two dozen nests (Roesler et al
. 2011a). Further losses to lone mink occurred in 2012-2013, with 15 adults and 7 juveniles killed at El Cervecero and 10 adults and 5 chicks killed at the very remote C199 colony in La Siberia plateau (
Casaas et al.
2013). The population may be limited by the carrying capacity of rather few lakes with good nest vegetation (O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997). Volcanic eruptions in the breeding area may have a negative short-term effect because of heavy ash fall, but a long-term positive effect on the productivity of the wetlands (O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997). There is oil exploitation on the potential migration route to the Atlantic (S. Imberti in litt.
1999). Conservation Actions Underway
Aves Argentinas is Species Guardian for Hooded Grebe and along with local NGO Ambiente Sur is coordinating the conservation effort. A law to create a new National Park was passed on March 14th 2013, covering 52,000 ha that will include over half of the breeding colonies. The site where the species was discovered in 1974, Laguna Los Escarchados, was declared a reserve in 1979 but is now known to hold only a marginal population (O'Donnell and Fjelds 1997). Comprehensive surveys have taken place to locate all breeding colonies with ongoing monitoring to assess breeding success and mortality. 'Colony Guardians' have been established to work with local communities. These are local people assigned to protect nests from predators, and to collect breeding data. Their efforts have improved survival rates at a number of colonies. An awareness-raising program has included displays and theatre productions within the region and the production of a video highlighting the plight of the species (available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0taBiJB35c&feature=youtu.be), which has been presented to over 100,000 people. A monitoring protocol and control program for invasive species has been devised, targeting American Mink and salmonid populations at breeding lakes and identifying routes of arrival. Experiments with devices to prevent the loss of colonies to wave action during exceptionally strong winds have been undertaken and are ongoing (Casaas et al.
2013). A regulation has been passed banning the introduction of trout on the Buenos Aires plateau and a trout removal experiment has begun on the Strobel plateau to assess recovery times of the lake vegetation (Casaas et al.
2013).Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue comprehensive survey of breeding colonies and winter censuses of estuaries and unfrozen lakes. Expand the 'Colony Guardian' approach to all active colonies. Write and implement a species recovery plan. Extend the area ban on introducing salmonids to further breeding locations and work with landowners to raise awareness of the impacts on Hooded Grebes of introducing salmonids to lakes. Study the species's ecology to understand population movements. Gather empirical data on population size and trends. Continue to investigate the threats to the species and the reasons behind recent declines.
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Chebez, J. C. 1994. Los que se van: especies argentinas en peligro. Albatros, Buenos Aires.
Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.
del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Fjeldså, J. 1986. Feeding ecology and possible life history tactics of the Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi. Ardea 74: 40-58.
Imberti, S., Sturzenbaum, S. and McNamara, M. 2004. Actualización de la distribución invernal de macá tobiano Podiceps gallardoi y notas sobre su problemática de conservación. Hornero 19: 83-89.
Johnson, A.; Serret, A. 1994. Hooded Grebe wintering grounds discovered. Cotinga: 9.
Konter, A. 2008. Decline in the population of Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi?. Cotinga: 135-138.
O'Donnell, C.; Fjeldsa, J. 1997. Grebes: a global action plan for their conservation.
Roesler, I.; Casañas, H.; Imberti, S. 2011. Final countdown for the Hooded Grebe? Neotropical Birding 9: 3-7.
Roesler, I.; Imberti, S.; Casaas, H.; Volpe, N. 2012. A new threat for the globally Endangered Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi): the American mink Neovison vison. Bird Conservation International.
Roesler, I.; Imberti, S.; Casañas, H.; Reboreda, J. C. 2011. Proposal for upgrading the Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi) to Critically Endangered.
Further web sources of information
Hear sounds for this species from xeno-canto, the community database of shared bird sounds from around the world.
Species Guardian Action Update
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Capper, D., Mansur, E., Pilgrim, J., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A. & Martin, R
Casaas, H., Imberti, S., Mazar Barnett, J. & Roesler, I.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Podiceps gallardoi. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2013.
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