Wildlife in Italy: Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus L.

Wildlife in Italy: Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus L.

Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Birds
Order: Podicipediformi
Family: Podicipedidi
Kind: Podiceps
Species: P. cristatus L.

The Great Crested Grebe is found in the plains of water across Europe (up to northern Scandinavia and Iceland). Eastern populations are migratory birds that winter over the coasts of western and southern Europe.

Great crested grebe - Podiceps cristatus L. (photo of the Padule di Fucecchio Research Center)

Great crested grebe - Podiceps cristatus L. (photo Emanuele Natali

Distinctive characters

Total length: 46-51 cm
Wingspan: 85-90 cm
Weight: 600-1,300 grams

It has a slender body about the size of a mallard. The bridal plumage is brown on the upper part, with white breast, front of the neck and face with brown forelock and collar; autumn-winter plumage similar to the previous one, but very white on the head, with almost no tuft and collar; in young people it resembles adults in winter, with dark streaks on the neck and inferiorly fulvic; whitish chickens with dark streaks.
The beak is relatively long, pointed, red in spring-summer, reddish in winter (adults) or pale pink (young).
The theta is elongated, with a long neck; the eyes have reddish iris with orange inner ring (adults) or orange with yellow inner ring (young).
The wings are brown and narrow; the short tail.
Green-olive-yellowish (adult) or brownish (young) legs with lobed feet.
Sexual dimorphism not evident (males are bigger than females).


Diurnal-crepuscular-nocturnal habits. Solo, in pairs or small groups. Night migration. Lives in wetlands. Phenology: sedentary, breeding, regular migrant, winter.
Feeding: it feeds on small fish, insects, crustaceans, amphibians.
During the wedding parade, the partners stand facing each other with their bodies vertical, frequently shaking their heads and raising shouts like grenc and keck keck or karr-arr trumpet sounds.
Nesting period: April-August. It lays eggs (2-6 whitish or brownish) in floating nests. The incubation lasts 27-28 days (generally one hatching per year); the offspring is nestproof.
The flight is fast, with rapid beats. from the water it starts with a short run. It dives and remains immersed in water for a long time.
Freedom lives over 14 years.

Video: WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY. When it doesnt go to plan. (October 2021).